Guard Killed In Holocaust Museum Shooting
MICHELE NORRIS, host:
Here in Washington, D.C., a security guard at the U.S. Holocaust Museum has been killed.
This afternoon, a man with a gun entered the museum. Law enforcement officials have identified him as a white supremacist by the name of James Von Brunn. He is reportedly in critical condition after being shot by security guards.
NPR's Allison Keyes has our story.
ALLISON KEYES: It happened at 10 minutes to one this afternoon. Metropolitan Police Department Chief Cathy Lanier says a suspect walked into the museum's main entrance carrying a visible rifle and opened fire.
Ms. CATHY LANIER (Chief of Police, Metropolitan Police Department, Washington, D.C.): The information we have at this point, it appears that immediately, as he entered the front doors of the museum, he raised the rifle and started shooting.
KEYES: Lanier says there was then an exchange of gunfire between a museum security guard and the suspect.
Ms. LANIER: We have one security guard who has been struck that is at a area hospital getting treatment. We also have the gunman, who was struck, obviously, from the return fire from security.
KEYES: Witnesses describe a chaotic scene, with security guards yelling to the thousands of people in the museum at the time to run, not to stop and not to look back.
Law enforcement officials say Von Brunn, the suspect, appears to have been acting alone and that they had no prior threats to the Holocaust Museum before the shooting. Officials are investigating Von Brunn's connection with several white supremacist Web sites.
In 1981, Von Brunn pulled out a shotgun at the Federal Reserve Board headquarters, threatening to take members of the board hostage.
Mark Potok of the Southern Poverty Law Center, a civil-rights advocacy group that tracks hate crimes, says:
Mr. MARK POTOK (Southern Poverty Law Center): He's been associated with a lot of the leading neo-Nazi thinkers and so on around this country, going back really a very long ways. At one point, James Von Brunn wrote a book, which he called "Kill the Best Gentiles!" His description of this book was, quote, "a new, hard-hitting expose of the Jew conspiracy to destroy the white gene pool."
KEYES: Outside of the Holocaust Museum, chief of staff William Parsons had high praise for the security guards.
Mr. WILLIAM PARSONS (Chief of Staff, U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum): We just want to say that never take your guard force or your security people for granted. These folks are trained. They train all the time. They did exactly what they were supposed to do to protect people at the museum.
KEYES: Police say a SWAT team swept the museum after the shooting to be sure it was clear, and also, the area near the museum was swept with bomb-sniffing dogs as a precaution. The FBI says it is collaborating with Washington's Metropolitan Police Department, park police and other law enforcement agencies on the investigation. Officials at the Holocaust Museum say the facility will be open tomorrow.
Allison Keyes, NPR News, Washington.
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