Holocaust Museum Shooting Suspect Charged

The author of an anti-Semitic Web site who allegedly killed a security guard after opening fire at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum is being charged with murder, officials said Thursday.

Washington, D.C., Police Chief Cathy Lanier said police believe 88-year-old James W. von Brunn shot his victim — museum security guard Stephen Tyrone Johns — almost immediately after Johns held the door open for the elderly man.

At a news conference, Lanier said von Brunn double-parked in front of the museum and walked up to the door shortly before 1 p.m. Wednesday. She said he had just stepped into the museum when he shot Johns with an old-model rifle, firing at least one round.

After the shooting, law enforcement officials found a notebook with a handwritten note in von Brunn's car that read, "You want my weapons — this is how you'll get them. The Holocaust is a lie. Obama was created by Jews," according to a court affidavit. Law enforcement officials said he also wrote an anti-Semitic Web site.

Officials said Johns didn't have a chance to draw his weapon before von Brunn pulled the trigger. Other guards returned fire, hitting von Brunn and stopping the assault moments after it began.

Johns died later at George Washington University Hospital, where von Brunn remains in critical condition.

FBI agent Joseph Persichini Jr., assistant director of the Washington FBI field office, said von Brunn may also be charged with hate crimes or civil rights violations, as agents and detectives continue their investigation into his activities.

Persichini said agents are reviewing massive Internet files, cell phone records and e-mail communications in an effort to piece together the details of von Brunn's activities in the 36 hours before the shooting.

He said authorities recovered numerous documents and pieces of paper and have contacted all persons and addresses that may have been mentioned. He said agents have also interviewed relatives and acquaintances, and he appealed to the public to contact authorities if they have any information about von Brunn.

"It appears that this individual acted alone," he said.

The Annapolis, Md., resident has been in trouble with the law before. He was sentenced in 1983 for attempted armed kidnapping and other charges in his 1981 bid to seize Fed board members. A guard captured him outside the room where the board was meeting. He had a revolver, sawed-off shotgun and knife in a bag with him. He served more than six years in prison.

"We will do everything possible not only to stop von Brunn but the other von Brunns that are out there in this nation today," Persichini said.

Museum director Sara Bloomfield described Johns, who had worked at the museum as an employee of Wackenhut Security for six years, as a warm and friendly man with a ready smile. "He really demonstrated that you could be a terrific professional and a very jovial, friendly human being. He always greeted us every morning with a great smile," she said.

In an interview on NBC's Today show, Bloomfield said the guards' training prevented other deaths. "Two of our officers did attack this assailant, and none of our visitors were hurt. We want to commend our officers who responded so well and pay tribute to Officer Johns, who also behaved so heroically in this incident," she said in an interview Thursday morning.

The museum remained closed Thursday, and flags were flown at half-staff there in honor of Johns.

From NPR and wire reports

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