Shooter’s odd behavior did not go unnoticed

| August 7, 2012

He wore his beliefs on his arm, along with his hate.

He called non-whites "dirt people," and sent roses to his grandmother.

He talked about accomplishing positive results in society, then killed six people and tried to gun down a cop (hitting him at least eight times) who was helping the wounded.

Wade Michael Page, dead himself in the wake of his mass-slaying rampage at the Sikh temple in Oak Creek Sunday, appears to have been many things – Army veteran of a special unit, fired truck driver, devoted grandson, hard-metal musician, white supremacist.

But to psychiatric nurse Jennifer Dunn, the 40-year-old with the shaved head was merely the "creepy quiet" neighbor who moved into her Cudahy building three weeks ago, toting his belongings in two black plastic garbage bags.

He rarely left his one-bedroom upper, where he lived alone. His only visitor, Dunn said, was a pizza delivery guy who stopped by a couple of times.

She didn't think twice about Page's numerous tattoos – one, it turns out, was an obscure reference to white supremacist doctrine – but his manner was strange.

"He made no eye contact," she said. "That's an abnormal thing. He wasn't rude, but he was not wanting to be engaged."

Late last week, Dunn said, Page's behavior became odder still. On Friday and Saturday, he blasted aggressive music from his stereo.

"He really had the tunes cranked up," said Dunn, who lives downstairs with her two daughters.

Then, on Saturday, Page carried what appeared to be the same "two bags full of crap" to his red SUV parked in the alley. He also carried out a large cardboard box.

"He paced around the truck for about 10 minutes" and then sat behind the wheel for a long time "staring off into space," Dunn said.

One of her daughters came inside and told her mother, "the dude is acting strange."

A day later, with police SWAT teams surrounding their home and Page and six innocent victims shot dead in and around the temple, she'd find out how strange he was.

But it didn't start that way.
'We have no idea'

Sobbing Tuesday as she spoke by telephone from her home in Denver, Colo., Page's stepmother said he grew up as a "precious child" in a normal, loving family.

"Where he changed and where this came from, we have no idea," said Laura Page, who was married to Wade Michael Page's father for about two decades.

The boy was 10 when the couple married. Three years later, his birth mother died, from lupus.

Like any child losing a parent, "he was devastated," Laura Page said.

Yet, she said, her stepson was mostly happy and liked to do "normal little boy stuff" – play with his dog, fish, camp. He loved music and played his guitar often, she said.

"He was kind and gentle and loving," she said. "He was normal in every way that I can think of."

She and Page's father moved to Texas when the boy was a teenager, but he stayed in Colorado, splitting time between an aunt and his grandmother, with whom he was very close.

He rejoined his parents in Texas after graduating from high school, took a job at a convenience store and eventually joined the Army.

"He said it was one of the best things he ever did – it gave him focus, a direction," Laura Page said.

She divorced Page's father in 2001, but talked with him after Sunday's killings. The father said he had tried calling his son about three weeks ago, but never got a call back.

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Category: Temple Security (Hindu and Sikh)

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