Wade Michael Page, the racist skinhead who killed six people last weekend at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin before turning the gun on himself, was a “patched” member of the Northern Hammerskins, a regional chapter of the larger Hammerskin Nation, the Southern Poverty Law Center has learned.
Page became a full, or patched, member of the Hammerskin chapter last October and appeared to be rising quickly in the organization, according to postings on Crew 38, the online forum for Hammerskin Nation (HSN). This year, in fact, his girlfriend, using the name “LuluRoman” on the forum, directed all regional inquiries regarding Northern Hammerskin events to Page.
It seems that Page, who was a mainstay with several hate rock bands, gained prominence in the organization in less than a year. Last October, the Crew 38 forum buzzed with excited commentary about Hammerfest, an annual skinhead rock festival. One commenter named “38Florida” offered congratulations to “Harley, Larry, Jason and Wade –– the newest members of the HSN.”
In the early hours of the following morning, Page responded under the name “End Apathy.” “Had an awesome time and I am honored to have earned the Crossed Hammers. HFFH!” he wrote. (HFFH stands for the group’s mantra, “Hammerskins Forever, Forever Hammerskins,” and “Crossed Hammers” is a reference to the patch worn by members.)
The Hammerskins is one of the oldest, most violent and most dominant skinhead groups in the United States. Unlike other groups, the Hammerskins managed to organize quickly nationally under decentralized leadership.
The Hammerskin Nation is now seeking to distance itself from Page, however. It has locked its online forum to all but a select few and stopped accepting applications for new users. The sudden attention to security comes as the FBI treats the shooting as an act of domestic terrorism.
Late last night, Page’s girlfriend, Misty Cook, a 31-year-old nursing student and waitress with whom he once lived, was arrested on gun charges, the Journal Sentinel in Milwaukee reported. Cook was barred under federal law from owning guns due to a 2005 felony conviction for eluding a police officer.
Like Page, Cook has long history on the racist right. She reportedly had deep association with Volksfront, a competing skinhead organization with far-flung international ties.
On Wednesday, Volksfront told a newspaper in Africa that it had not been in contact with Cook since 2008. “In fact it would be accurate to describe our relationship with her as openly hostile since 2008,” the group said in an E-mail. “She is not a Volksfront member, associate or supporter in any way.”
Like the Hammerskins, Volksfront has also worked to distance itself from Page. On Monday, the organization announced it had consulted an attorney to file a lawsuit against ABC News for falsely tying Page to the group.
“After consultation with legal counsel, we intend to seek $10,000,000 in civil remedy,” the organization wrote in a news release. “We have never met Wade Page, and we can easily prove it.”