New York: What on earth compelled Wade Michael Page to run amok and unleash the single bloodiest attack on the Sikh community on US soil? America is now grappling with whether to call this a hate crime, or domestic terrorism. Meanwhile, some medical experts say the Wisconsin gurdwara massacre has less to do with the first two reasons and more to do with Page being mentally ill.
There is no doubt that Page, who killed six people at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin before being killed by police, ranted in Internet forums and was deeply involved in the "hate rock" scene. Page, who played in several white-power bands with names such as Intimidation One, Definite Hate and End Apathy, even possessed an application to join the Ku Klux Klan.
Yet, all that may not be why he killed people, says Dr Keith Ablow, a psychiatrist and member of the Fox News Medical A-Team.
“Wade Michael Page had recently broken up with his girlfriend. And while losing a romantic partner isn't enough to stoke the flames of violence for most people, it can be for those whose minds already teeter close to the brink of chaos, due to underlying mental illness,” wrote Dr Ablow on FoxNews.com (read here).
“Some of those people actually harbor intense fears, including the fear of being worthless and unlovable and destined for complete and utter isolation, forever. And for those individuals, the loss of a girlfriend or a marriage can bring them to project their sense of desolation and destruction on others — as if, unable to bear the full weight of their grief and self-loathing, they make their sense of having been deadened and decimated contagious,” added Ablow.
According to reports, Page's mother, Beverly Van Buskirk, died in 1985 from lupus. He was raised by his father and his stepmom Laura Page. The couple later divorced.
“If Wade Michael Page hated people of color, I promise you that was his unconscious psychological strategy to avoid hating himself — the broken child inside him who had lost his mother at age 3, and had found a parent in the US military, only to be dismissed from that 'family.' And for Mr Page, if mentally ill, being told he was not loved by the woman who had once told him that she did love him, could, indeed, be enough to make him see only darkness lying ahead, and create that bleak landscape himself,” added Ablow.
Page’s stint in the army was erratic. He was demoted from sergeant and by the time his contract with the army was complete in 1998 he had a poor enough record, marred by drunkenness and failing to report for duty, that the army didn’t permit him to re-enlist. Questions are likely to be raised about whether the army felt he displayed signs of mental disorder and washed their hands of him.
The police said on Tuesday that Page had left behind no obvious clues to his motive and they had not found any telltale writings or note left by the gunman. This is disconcerting for the Sikh community seeking emotional healing as Page’s motive may never be known.
"We're looking at all the obvious indicators — things that would happen in somebody's life that would cause them to snap," Police Chief John Edwards told CNN (more here). "We're not finding anything like that… We may never know the motive, because he died, and that motive died with him."
Edwards said Page's case is unusual for the lack of clues left behind. Usually, he said, people who commit mass shootings leave writings about their plans and motivations. The chief also said, contrary to earlier speculation, Page didn’t have a 9/11 tattoo. Page, however, did have white supremacist tattoos, which can be seen in photos of him on the Internet. But Edwards cautioned against jumping to conclusions that they could explain the Sikh shootings.
"Yeah, that's out there and he was involved in that," he said of the white supremacist movement. But, he added, "We may just never know what the trigger was for this."
Even if Page’s motives are a mystery, the shootings have reopened wounds for the Sikh community whose members have found themselves frequent targets of hate attacks since September 11.
"Every Sikh American today is hurting, grieving and afraid."
Kaur added that “tragically, the turban has marked Sikhs as immediate targets during waves of anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim hate violence in America” (more here).