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Police arrest girlfriend of Sikh shooting suspect

By Kim Murphy and Molly Hennessy-Fiske, Los Angeles Times –

SOUTH MILWAUKEE, Wis. — Police arrested a former girlfriend of the gunman who killed six people at a Sikh temple, saying an unauthorized gun was found in the home they once shared.

(PHOTO: Several thousand people, including members of the Sikh community, attend a candlelight service on Tuesday, August 7, 2012, at Miller Park in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, for the six members of the Sikh temple in Oak Creek who were killed in a shooting rampage Sunday.)

Misty Cook, a 31-year-old waitress and nursing student with reported ties to white supremacist organizations, was arrested Tuesday in a joint investigation with the FBI on suspicion of being a felon in possession of a firearm. Wade Michael Page, the gunman shot dead by police at the temple Sunday, had lived with her until moving to a separate residence a few weeks ago.

Police said criminal charges against Cook would be sought through the Milwaukee County district attorney’s office.

The arrest did not appear to be directly related to the attack at the temple in nearby Oak Creek, and police continued to say they believe Page acted alone. Page, 40, killed six worshippers at the temple, known as a gurdwara, and critically wounded three other people, including a police officer shot nine times while trying to tend to one of the other victims.

Although Page has been identified as having deep ties in the white supremacist movement, authorities continued to insist that they were making no assumptions about his motive in attacking Sikh immigrants, who in the past have been mistakely targeted as Muslims.

“We’re looking at all the obvious indicators — things that would happen in somebody’s life that would cause them to snap,” Oak Creek Police Chief John Edwards told CNN. “We’re not finding anything like that….We may never know the motive, because he died, and that motive died with him.”

Asked whether Page had left any writings on a computer or elsewhere, Edwards said an FBI evidence team “has recovered some items, and they are going through all of that.” But so far, he said, they have found nothing that sheds light on the crime.

It was apparently during a search for Page’s belongings that authorities found the gun at the home he had shared with Cook.

“They found a gun when they searched the house, that’s all I know,” said neighbor Terry Page, who is not related to the shooter.

Citing the FBI’s ongoing investigation, police said they would not release further details about the weapon. Police also refused to discuss Cook’s criminal record.

According to court records, Brenda Misty Cook was convicted in 2005 of fleeing a traffic officer in Milwaukee County. She was sentenced to 18 months’ probation and served 97 days in jail.

Cook shared Page’s interest in the white power movement and was active in at least two neo-Nazi organizations, according to the Anti-Defamation League, which monitors hate groups. The ADL had information on Page and Cook going back several years, and ADL researchers said Page appeared to have moved to Wisconsin to be with her.

Cook sent a statement to the Journal Sentinel Tuesday, saying she could not comment and asking for privacy. “If I could say something to ease the pain of the victims and their families, I would gladly do so,” she wrote. “Unfortunately, words do not begin to heal the pain they are going through.”

Terry Page, who lives downstairs from Cook, said that he didn’t know the couple well, but that Wade Page had lived with Cook and her 5-year-old autistic son in the upstairs apartment since March 1. In the middle of June, he said, Wade Page hauled out his things in a few garbage bags and Cook signaled that the couple had broken up.

Terry Page identified Cook in a photo provided by the ADL, which said she had been an active member of the white-power group Volksfront during 2007 and 2008. Cook is wearing a Volksfront T Shirt in the photo.

Jenna Benn, assistant director of the ADL in Chicago, said Cook also was active in Crew 38, the women’s arm of another neo-Nazi group with which Wade Page had been involved, Hammerskin Nation, and wrote postings for the Hammerskins’ website.

Wade Page’s stepmother said she was struggling to comprehend what he did, although she conceded that it had been 13 years since she had been in touch with the man she called her son.

“We’re all devastated,” Laurie Page said in a telephone interview from Denver, where she lives. She was including her ex-husband, Page’s father, with whom she has been in touch since the shooting.

“We’ve lost our son and those poor people who lost their lives, their families — our hearts go out to them,” she said. “I don’t know what happened. We’re just trying to understand the questions: Why and how did this happen? And we’re never going to have an answer.”

Sobbing at times, Laurie Page, 67, said the family has trouble understanding how the young man they knew became the Wade Page described in recent media accounts.

“We had no idea what was going on in his life,” she said. “Up until him going into the service, I just know him as that kind, gentle boy. That’s how I have to remember him — not what he became, but who he was.”

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