OAK CREEK -- Authorities are still speculating as to the motive that drove 40-year-old Wade Michael Page to open fire Sunday morning inside the Sikh Temple in Oak Creek. The investigation thus far has uncovered Page's deep roots in the white supremacy movement. According to a man who knew Page well, Page's hatred was born during his service in the military.
Page's journey from a boy growing up in Denver who enjoyed camping to a white supremacist band member, and eventually, the Oak Creek Sikh Temple shooter may have begun at Fort Bragg Army base in North Carolina. Page served in the Army from 1992-1998.
University of Nebraska criminology professor Pete Simi spent a fair amount of time in communication with Page from 2001 to 2003 for his research into white supremacists for books like "American Swastika."
"He told me if you don't go into the military racist, you'll certainly come out one," Simi said.
After the military, Simi says Page pivoted his hate towards all non-whites.
"What he explained to me is that he began to see how unfair the military system was organized and that African-Americans were promoted ahead of whites for affirmative action. They were coddled and not disciplined when they should have been," Simi said.
Simi says he believes the 9-11 terrorist attacks enraged Page.
"We had an email exchange after 9-11 and he felt that America needed to just go to the Middle East and bomb all of it. I don't know that we'll ever know Page had it in his mind that he was attacking Muslims or if it didn't really matter much -- he was attacking non-whites and that's what really counts," Simi said.
Simi says he is certain Page's breakup with Misty Cook two months before the shooting, along with a drinking problem and an inability to hold down steady work likely helped land Page in Oak Creek Sunday morning.
Simi says Page was aware of white supremacists growing up in Denver through some fringe elements of the punk rock movement, but Simi says he never identified with them until he enlisted.
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