ABC identifies temple-shooting suspect as 'white supremacist'

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ABC has reported "sources" told its reporters working the Oak Creek temple-shooting story that "the shootings are the work of a 'white supremacist' or 'skinhead.' "

A suspect has since been identified as Wade Michael Page, a U.S. Army veteran. Police say Page shot and killed six people Sunday at a Sikh temple near Milwaukee before being killed by police.

A Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives agent told ABC "the suspect had tattoos and that authorities were investigating whether he was a 'skin head or 'white supremacist.' " (Odd quote deployment is in original story.) Investigating, not saying. The FBI released a statement Sunday saying "While the FBI is investigating whether this matter might be an act of domestic terrorism, no motive has been determined at this time."

CNN reported "a law enforcement source involved in the investigation" told the network the suspect "may have been a white supremacist." NBC has reported the Southern Poverty Law Center identified Page as "the former leader of a neo-Nazi music group called End Apathy." (Here's a page with some End Apathy recordings.)

In a post, the SPLC's Mark Potok says Page was "a frustrated neo-Nazi who had been the leader of a racist white-power band."

In 2010, Page, then the leader of the band End Apathy, gave an interview to the white supremacist website Label 56. He said that when he started the band in 2005, its name reflected his wish to “figure out how to end people’s apathetic ways” and start “moving forward.”

Potok's post also includes what might be a picture of Page.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel says it could not confirm the account of Page's purported white supremacism. The Los Angeles Times reported that "Tattoos on the body of the slain Sikh temple gunman and certain biographical details led the FBI to treat the attack at a Milwaukee-area temple as an act of domestic terrorism."

Several weeks ago, ABC apologized after Brian Ross inaccurately linked Aurora, Colo., theater-shooting suspect James Holmes to the Tea Party.

Related: How cable news networks handled shooting Sunday morning (TVNewser)

  • Andrew Beaujon

    Andrew Beaujon reported on the media for Poynter from 2012 to 2015. He was previously arts editor at and managing editor of Washington City Paper. He's the author of the 2006 book "Body Piercing Saved My Life," about Christian rock and evangelical Christian culture.


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