The nation is in mourning over a tragic mass shooting inside a Sikh temple in Wisconsin. Wade Michael Page, an out-of-work army veteran linked to Neo-Nazi groups, opened fire last Sunday taking aim at dozens of innocent people. ABC 4 news wanted to know what goes on inside the mind of a white supremacist.
We talked with a former white supremacist who says he can understand how this shooter may have gone over the edge.
"This young man was with a much known, pronounced white supremacy organization in the U.S. and he had just recently broken up with his girlfriend, he was angry he was upset. I think a combination of that and his hatred he maybe felt you know it was just time to act," said TJ Leyden.
Leyden knows that feeling all too well, he was a white supremacist for 15 years. He says the movement's hate often leads to violence.
"Hate and violence go hand in hand. You can't hate people and keep that bottled up. Eventually it has to be unleashed, uncorked so to speak. And a lot of time it's on innocent people who are in the wrong place at the wrong time," Leyden said.
We did some digging and learned there are at least 1,018 active hate groups in the United States. According to the southern poverty law center, the number of ultra right wing militias grew after president Obama was elected in 2008. But these groups are not organized like they were in the past. Leyden said they're known to seek out vulnerable teens.
"a lot of the kids that are involved in the white supremacy movement are from various backgrounds, but a lot of it, what it does is give them a sense of family," he said.
And the fact that Wisconsin shooter wade Michael page was in a skinhead band didn't surprise Leyden.
"They use a lot of music, I mean music is an effective tool," he said.
Leyden made his way up the ranks in his group until he had two little boys and realized he wanted more for them. So he left, not realizing how much it would improve his life as well.
"I always tell people my life is 10,000 times better than it was, and that's true," he said.
Since Leyden left the white supremacy group, he started doing seminars to warn kids of the dangers of this lifestyle. He has 5 little boys and says life couldn't be better.