- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 11, 2009

A midday, midweek shooting at one of Washington’s popular museums sparks terror, chaos and disruption in the heart of the city. Some eyewitness accounts of the tragedy:

• Fourteen-year-old Lindsey Newman of Sparks, Nev., was in the museum’s theater with her parents and younger sister, getting ready to hear a speech by a Holocaust survivor when shots rang out. Those inside locked the theater, where they stayed for a tense hour.

“I was shaking, I was like losing my mind - I thought we were going to die, honestly,” she said. “Everything’s quiet, and all of a sudden these four shots go off and it echoes, so it made it ten times even scarier than it actually was.”

In a museum dedicated to tragedy and loss, Lindsey said the event was, “in a way, history kind of repeating itself.”

“It was heart-wrenching. I was in tears,” she said.

Museum closed as investigation continues
Right-wing extremists face extra scrutiny
Gunshots pierce somber memorial
Gunman’s victim was a ‘gentle giant’
Jewish groups say attack is a ‘wake-up call’
Gun controllers say rampage aids cause

• Laurel Dalrymple, 58, visiting from Cloverdale, Calif., said the incident felt “unreal” as she watched from an upper level while the confrontation played out in the museum’s entrance lobby below.

“It was like looking through the window and it was on TV,” she said. “But then I saw the [security guards] with their guns. … Some people just ran, but some people ducked.”

Mrs. Dalrymple added, “All I could think was that my nephew, who is 13, would just die to be able to be here and see this. But you’re not thinking that somebody had been hurt. You would think logically that when you hear a big boom and people are going with guns, somebody is probably hurt, but I didn’t know that at first. I just felt rotten, really rotten because the [security guard] gave his life for us.”

• Susan Towater, 59, and her husband Charles, 73, were a block away from the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, with tickets for the 1:15 p.m. tour when they heard several gunshots.

“We heard the gunshots, we walked towards it,” Mrs. Towater said, adding that they didn’t realize where exactly the shots were coming from.

As they approached the museum from across the street, they saw a security guard run out of the building, and then saw a body on the sidewalk in front of the building. They said the man on the ground - later identified as the suspected shooter - was not moving and was dressed in a coat and tie.

“The police didn’t seem too concerned about him,” Mrs. Towater said. “They knew he was not going anywhere.”

Her husband said he later saw medics put two people in ambulances.

Story Continues →