MILWAUKEE — Around the middle of June, Wade M. Page split with his girlfriend, moving out of the home they shared in South Milwaukee. In mid-July, he suddenly stopped showing up to his job as a machine operator. About two weeks later, he bought a 9mm handgun, testing it by firing 50 rounds at a target in the gun shop’s basement.
Within the next six days, Page would send a text message to his landlord saying he was having a horrific week, according to the landlord’s former stepson, and he would then gun down six people at a Sikh temple in nearby Oak Creek before fatally shooting himself in the head, the authorities said Wednesday.
Investigators have yet to find a note or any clear indication of Page’s motive. As they continue combing through mounds of evidence, including e-mails, telephone records, and security footage, and as relatives of the Sikh victims prepare for funerals and memorial services, interviews with Page’s former colleagues and neighbors depict a troubling final few weeks in his life.
The conclusion that Page killed himself was new, as authorities had said earlier that he had been fatally shot by police. According to the Associated Press, an FBI official said Wednesday that Page shot himself after he was wounded by police.
Page, 40, came to the Milwaukee area less than a year ago because of his relationship with Misty M. Cook, 31, who, like Page, was involved with white supremacist groups, said experts tracking those groups.
In October 2011, Page became an official member of Hammerskin Nation, one of the nation’s largest racist skinhead groups, according to Mark Pitcavage, director of investigative research for the Anti-Defamation League.
Since 2009, Cook had been an active participant in Crew 38, a support group for Hammerskin made up of people attempting to join or ineligible to join the organization. Hammerskin does not allow female members.
Page and Cook moved into the top floor of a cream-colored duplex in South Milwaukee in March, said Sharon Page, who lives on the ground level with her family and has no relation to Page. Sharon Page said she never noticed anything out of the ordinary with the couple.
But around the middle of June, Sharon Page said, she saw Wade Page leaving with black garbage bags and boxes. He never returned, she said.
Law enforcement authorities declined to comment on why the couple broke up, and Cook has refused interview requests since the shooting.
Teresa L. Carlson, the special agent in charge of the FBI’s Milwaukee office, said that Cook has been cooperative and that investigators did not believe she had anything to do with the shooting on Sunday. Still, she has been a center of attention since the killings.
After Page moved out of the home he shared with Cook, he rented a room for $100 a week from Kurt Weins in the southern suburb of Cudahy, said Zak Edmonds, Weins’s former stepson. After several weeks, in mid-July, Page moved into a unit in another house Weins owned across the street, Edmonds said.
On July 17 or 18, Page, without explanation, stopped showing up for his 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. shift at Lucas-Milhaupt, a welding company, said Phillip Malliet, the company’s president. Page had held the job since February.
Less than two weeks after leaving his job at Lucas-Milhaupt, Page purchased a Springfield Armory XDM handgun with three 19-round magazines for about $650 in cash, said the shop owner, Kevin Nugent.
“He wasn’t suspicious at all,” Nugent said. “He just looked like a normal guy.”
In the weeks before the shooting, Weins went to Page’s apartment to collect rent and found him sitting in the dark, Edmonds said.