Internet Philanthropists Raise $75,000+ For Sikh Temple Shooting
Wade Michael Page is a gunman that shot several people at a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin. Page had a history with alcohol, which caused him to lose his military career and his job as a trucker. Page, 40, was shot to death by a Wisconsin police officer after he killed 6 Sikh worshippers at a temple and shot one police officer.
During a religious service, the man entered the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin in Oak Creek and fired form his automatic-weapon. Four people were killed inside the building and two were killed outside. He also wounded one police officer before being shot to death by another officer. Three other people were injured. The shooting took place on Sunday at 10:30AM Central Time.
President Obama and presidential hopeful Mitt Romney both expressed their condolences to the victims in Oak Creek and the Sikh community. Obama met with top federal officials and had pledged federal assistance in Wisconsin.
“At this difficult time, the people of Oak Creek must know that the American people have them in our thoughts and prayers,” said Obama.
There are about 500,000 Sikh people in the U.S. Sikh men are known for growing beards and wearing colorful turbans. They are often confused with Muslims and ever since the September 11, 2001 World Trade Center attack, there have been reports of Sikhs being harassed including one unarmed Sikh man being killed in Phoenix. Sikhs in the U.S. have primarily immigrated from India and did not have any kind of role in the World Trade Center attacks.
Gurmel Singh, the head priest at the temple, was inside the building during the shooting. Parkash Singh, his brother and another priest, was one of the individuals that were killed in the attack.
“I’m here for 15 or 16 years in the USA. And at this temple, maybe five years. There are no problems. First time problem,” stated Gurmel Singh in an interview with The Washington Post.
The officer that was shot is a 51-year-old veteran of twenty years named Lt. Brian Murphy. Murphy was helping a victim outside when he was “ambushed” and shot 8-9 times. Another officer shot and killed the gunman after that. He added that the officers’ actions were heroic. “It stopped a tragic event that could have been worse,” stated Oak Creek Police Chief John Edwards.
Page was discharged from the Army in 1998 because he was found drunk during military exercises according to law enforcement authorities. He was convicted of driving under the influence a year later in Colorado. A trucking company confirmed that they fired Page two years ago after he was pulled over in North Carolina for driving while impaired.
Page was known for being “involved with white supremacy.” He talked about the racial holy war and he was very much a loner. Even when he was in a group of people, he would sit on his own. In 2000, Page sold everything he owned aside from his motorcycle and drove to Colorado, where he was originally from. Eventually he settled in North Carolina and joined “white power” rock bands.
Page worked as a truck driver between 2006 and 2010 with Barr-Nunn Transportation, a trucking company based in Iowa. He was fired in August 2010 after being pulled over while being drunk. He refused to submit to a blood-alcohol test when he was pulled over. After he lost his job, Page hit financial trouble. His home in Fayetteville, North Carolina was foreclosed in January. He bought the house for $165,000 in 2007, refinanced his mortgage two years later and had fallen behind on payments.
Page was tracked by anti-hate watchdog groups such as the “Southern Poverty Law Center.” Page’s online postings by the SITE monitoring service showed his efforts to promote his bands, which had names like “Definite hate” and “End Apathy.” There were many references to the number 88 in his online postings, which means “Heil Hitler.” H is the 8th letter of the alphabet.
He also often used “the 14 words” referred in the two mantras of white supremacists. The two mantras are:
One: “We must secure the existence of our people and a future for White Children.”
Two: “Because the beauty of the White Aryan women must not perish from the earth.”
One of Page’s postings in late 2011 was when one of the members of the white supremacy community said that they would flee the country if African American candidate Herman Cain was successful in his campaign for the presidency. Page wrote “Stand and fight, don’t run.”
“There is a whole underworld out there of white supremacist music of which the public is almost entirely unaware,” stated Mark Potok, a senior fellow at the Southern Poverty Law Center. There was never any evidence that Page had any specific resentment towards Sikhs. Watchdog groups say that it is likely that Page confused the religion with Islam.
It is unknown why Page ended up living in Wisconsin. He had lived in a two-story apartment in South Milwaukee with his girlfriend and her son.
“He was just a nice person,” said Page’s grandmother in an interview with The Washington Post. “I can’t understand him taking six other people’s lives.”
Label 56, the record label that published Page’s music, released a statement saying:
“Label 56 is very sorry to hear about the tragedy in Wisconsin and our thoughts are with the families and friends of those who are affected.” The statement added “Please do not take what Wade did as honorable or respectable and please do not think we are all like that.”
The Sikh temple shooting has taken place at a time where the nation was still recovering emotionally over the Aurora movie theater shooting. One of the victims at the Aurora movie theater named Cody Hickman has reached out to fellow survivors on the Aurora Theater Shooting memorial Facebook Page and encouraged them to show support for people that were affected in the shooting in Wisconsin. Below is the full letter that he wrote on the page:
Friends, my name is Cody Hickman, and I was in theater 8 during the Aurora theater shooting. I am writing this post as a call to action for all of you. All you will be asked to do is repost this message, and help us network some support.
For those who do not yet know, there was a shooting today at a Wisconsin Sikh temple. Lives have been lost, and many have been injured. In the wake of the Aurora Theater Shooting, we all now know what our neighbors in Wisconsin are about the go through. They will need support, and resources. The volunteers who run this page, as well as the Survivors of the Aurora Theater Shooting page are here to help in that effort. We would like to use our experience with this page to help those in Wisconsin, in whatever way we can.
However, in order for us to do this, we need to reach them via social media. This is where all of you can help. This page has over 10,000 people as an audience, and many of you repost this message, it will hopefully reach our neighbors in Wisconsin. We can help them get the support they need. We can help them streamline their resources. We can help, and so can you. Simply repost this, or direct anybody who may be in that area to this page.
This is a tragedy that many of us now know all too well. There is now a community who will need the same kind of love and support that you have all shown us, for again, I am a survivor of the Aurora shooting, and I am getting better everyday as a result of this effort. So, PLEASE, help us in this. They will need all the help they can get at a time like this.
A campaign has launched on Indiegogo to raise funds for the victims of the shooting on Sunday. Mashable reports that the campaign has surpassed their $25,000 goal in less than on day and with 25 days left, philanthropists have donated towards the new goal of $100,000.
The funds will be used to offset the costs of medical bills, psychological counseling for victims and their families, and funeral costs. The names of the people that started the campaign and their contact information are listed on the page to ensure accountability and transparency of the funds raised.
Savneet Singh, one of the 8 people that started the campaign said that he is not affiliated with the victims directly, but they are in touch with the community representatives. All of the funds raised will go towards the families of those killed and the wounded victims.
Shortly after the shooting started, Satwant Singh Kaleka, the temple president, attacked Page after he started shooting. This bought valuable time in allowing others to escape. Police told Satwant’s son Amar Deep Kaleka that Satwant “attacked the intruder in the lobby [of the temple] after gunshots were fired.” The shooter was attacked with a knife and he was wounded bad enough to leave blood trails as he continued his shooting rampage. Satwant died trying to “protect the temple, his family, his wife, and all his friends.” Satwant was the president of the Sikh temple and one of the founders.