- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 11, 2009

UPDATED:

The U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum remains closed Thursday as investigators try to learn what might have led the suspected gunman with anti-Semitic views to his fatal assault inside the building and what exactly occurred in his 30-second gun battle with security guards.

Official have scheduled an 11 a.m. press conference outside the museum, just blocks from the National Mall that is home to the Smithsonian museums, the Washington Monument and other international attractions in the nation’s capital.

The incident began Wednesday shortly before 1 p.m. when suspected gunman James W. von Brunn, 88, of Annapolis, fatally shot security guard Stephen Tyrone Johns, 39, of Temple Hills.


Investigators think Mr. von Brunn acted alone, but law-enforcement sources say a notebook was found inside Mr. von Brunn’s car that included a list of roughly 10 other landmarks. Investigators will likely be asked about the unconfirmed list and to provide more details.

Mr. von Brunn remains in critical condition at George Washington University Hospital and has not officially been charged in the fatal shooting. Police say five shots were exchange inside the museum lobby and that Mr. von Brunn was shot in the head by other officers working for the Wackenhut Services Inc. security company. Officials reported one other minor injury.

Witnesses described a chaotic scene in which they heard the shots, then were rushed by guards into exhibit rooms as SWAT teams, ambulances and helicopters arrived outside. Flags outside the museum have been lowered to half-staff in honor of Mr. Johns, whom President Obama described as a “hero.” The museum was closed for the day on Thursday.

Mr. von Brunn was well known to monitors of hate groups as an avowed anti-Semite who also expressed hatred for non-whites and the U.S. government. In a Web posting he purportedly made in November, he made threats against Congress and Holocaust memorials.

He was a contributor to the Web site (www.holywesternempire.org), but investigators are expected to confirm reports that Mr. Von Brunn expressed his views in a wider range of publications, Web sites and to family and acquaintances.