Wade Michael Page was identified in this photo by the Anti-Defamation League, a civil rights agency that fights anti-Semitism.
OAK CREEK, Wis. (CBS NEWS) - Investigators are looking into possible white supremacist links to the gunman who killed six people and wounded three at a Sikh temple outside Milwaukee before being killed in a shootout with police.
Federal authorities say they'd come across Wade Michael Page, 40, before. And he had a criminal record, police say.
But his stepmother says the man being described is nothing like the person she remembers.
According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, Page was a member of two skinhead bands (video), including one called Definite Hate.
In a 2007 performance in South Carolina, the group played under a giant swastika flag emblazoned with the face of Adolph Hitler.
"We are looking at ties to white supremacist groups, of course," the FBI special agent in charge, Teresa Carlson, said at a news conference.
In a 2010 interview, Page, a U.S. Army veteran, said he started his other band, End Apathy, because, "the value of human life has been degraded by being submissive to tyranny and hypocrisy that we are subjugated to."
Monday night, his stepmother, Laura Page, told reporters the emerging portrait of her stepson was unrecognizable.
"He was gentle and kind and loving and a he was a happy person and a happy child. And what happened, God only knows, because I don't," Page said.
She is divorced from Page's father and says the last time she saw her stepson was Christmas 1999.
"When he lived in Texas with us, he had Hispanic friends and he had black friends. You know, there was none of that," Page added.
Several years ago, Page's name turned up as part of several federal investigations, although Page himself was never a target and there was no intelligence to suggest he posed a threat.
Page's criminal record included convictions for criminal mischief and arrests for driving under the influence.
He was also a soldier, last stationed at Fort Bragg, N.C. But he was demoted in 1998 for being drunk on duty and absent without leave.
Oak Creek Police Chief John Edwards says Page "was in the military from 1992 - 1998. He had a general discharge and he was ineligible for re-enlistment."
The shootings have once again raised fears about violent attacks by right wing extremists, which are on the rise, according to the FBI, the SPLC and the Anti-Defamation League, which track hate groups.
Sources tell CBS News Page bought a 9 mm pistol at a store called The Shooters Shop. Manager Eric Grabowski says, "We see a lot of people every day and he didn't stand out if he was in here."
Page bought the gun July 28, just one week before the shooting spree.
It was captured by surveillance cameras at the temple, as well as by dashboard cameras on the police cruisers that responded.
But because the shooting also involved an officer, those videos will not be released for at least a month, to give the police time to complete that part of the investigation.