Investigators probably will collect all bullets and fragments from the temple and the victims’ bodies to confirm they came from Page’s gun. Detectives also will pore over witness statements to make absolutely certain he was the only shooter, said Joe LeFevre, chairman of the forensic science department at Fox Valley Technical College in Appleton, Wis.
Authorities are interviewing Page’s family, friends and associates. Agents spent Monday morning doing a door-to-door sweep on his street, chatting with neighbors on their front porches and in their backyards.
“It’s like any crime,” said Jack Ryan, a Rhode Island attorney who trains police around the country. “You focus on their recent tracks. You focus on friends, acquaintances. He had to get ready for this plot somewhere.”
The investigation could take weeks or longer, but Page’s motive is the key.
If detectives determine Page simply held a personal grudge, the Sikhs and the rest of the public will have an answer. If investigators conclude he was motivated by racist ideology, that might lead police to accomplices, help collect intelligence on white supremacist groups and prevent future attacks.
Page’s girlfriend, 31-year-old nursing student Misty Cook, faced some legal trouble herself, though Ms. Carlson said Wednesday that Ms. Cook’s arrest over the weekend was not connected to the shootings. Ms. Cook was arrested on a weapons violation Sunday after investigators interviewed her about Page, but Ms. Carlson said she was cooperative and was quickly released.
South Milwaukee police had said Ms. Cook was taken into custody on a tentative charge of being a felon in possession of a firearm. Milwaukee County sheriff’s spokeswoman Fran McLaughlin said Ms. Cook also went by the name Brenda Cook. Online court records show Brenda Cook pleaded no contest in 2005 to a felony charge of fleeing an officer.
The voice mail on Ms. Cook’s cellphone was full and wouldn’t accept a message. However, in regard to the shooting, she told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel in an email: “If I could say something to ease the pain of the victims and their families, I would gladly do so. Unfortunately, words do not begin to heal the pain they are going through.”
No matter how thorough the investigation, the final conclusions are bound to leave victims with many of the same anguish-filled questions.
“Whatever the answer is, we can be reasonably sure it won’t be an answer many people would say makes sense to them,” said University of Wisconsin-Madison law professor Michael Scott, who is writing a guidebook for police on hate crimes.
“We’d like to have some peek into that twisted mind. But in the end, it’s still a peek into a twisted mind that doesn’t tell us anything we didn’t already know about human nature.