Wednesday, June 10, 2009
Killed by a Gutless Coward!
The killer one James von Brunn, an 88-year-old white supremacist from Maryland.
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A lone gunman killed a security guard at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum on Wednesday before being wounded himself by return fire from other guards, sources confirmed to CNN.
Stephen Tyrone Johns was shot and killed while working at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum on Wednesday.
The suspect was identified as James von Brunn, an 88-year-old white supremacist from Maryland, two law enforcement officials told CNN.
The museum identified the guard as Stephen Tyrone Johns.
The gunman entered the museum at 12:50 p.m. with a rifle and immediately shot a museum security guard, said Chief Cathy Lanier of the District of Columbia's Metropolitan Police Department. Two other security guards returned fire, wounding the gunman, she said.
Both the gunman and a security guard were taken to George Washington University Hospital, where the gunman was in "critical" condition, said D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty. Neither Lanier nor Fenty would identify the gunman.
The museum released a statement saying Johns died "heroically in the line of duty."
"There are no words to express our grief and shock over these events. He served on the Museum's security staff for six years. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Officer Johns' family," the statement said. "We have made the decision to close the Museum tomorrow in honor of Officer Johns, and our flags will be flown at half mast in his memory."
Von Brunn is a known Holocaust denier who reportedly has claimed that the book "The Diary of Anne Frank," about a teenage girl's experiences under Nazi rule, was a hoax. The shooting occurred two days before what would have been Anne Frank's 80th birthday.
Emergency vehicles converged on the area, which is near the Washington Monument and other popular tourist attractions. The museum was full at the time, with a "couple of thousand" people inside, said William Parsons, the chief of staff.
"Never take your guard force and security people for granted," Parsons said. "They did exactly what they were supposed to do to protect people in the museum." Law enforcement analyst talks about how this could have happened »
An FBI official said there was no prior warning or threat against the museum. In a later statement, the FBI said members of its National Capital Response Squad and Joint Terrorism Task Force are taking part in the investigation.
Law center: Shooting suspect has 'long history' with neo-Nazis
Lanier said the area around the museum was checked by bomb-sniffing dogs as a matter of routine.
President Obama was made aware of the incident, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs told reporters.
"I walked in and I told him there had been a shooting at the museum," Gibbs said, adding that Obama was "obviously concerned for the security guard that appears to have been hurt ... obviously saddened by what has happened." See where the museum is located »
A witness, who identified herself as 19-year-old Maria without providing a last name, told CNN she heard five shots and saw a security guard lying wounded on the ground.
"It was definitely a security guard, he was down bleeding on the floor," she said. "He was face down. His back ... blood was coming out."
Dave Pearson, a sixth-grade teacher in the Washington area, said he was on the museum's fourth floor when he heard a loud noise.
"At the time, we're visiting and all of a sudden there's like a boom, and all of a sudden they told us to stop where we're at," he told CNN's Ed Henry.
"Only thing we heard was a boom, and that was it." Watch another museum visitor tell what he saw »
A woman who did not give her name said she understood the shooting happened inside the museum near the security checkpoint at the entrance.
She said she was quickly evacuated.
"We did see yellow tape down the hall when we were being rushed out," she said. "They came in and said we had to leave right away, and they got us out."
The museum was closed for the rest of the day, and the museum statement said: "Our thoughts and prayers go out to the officer and his family."
A statement by the Israeli Embassy expressed shock and sadness at the shooting and said it condemned the attack. Fenty called the shooting "an extremely isolated incident" in the nation's capital, which is a major tourist destination.
"In these days and times, you never know when someone is going to grab a gun and use it in an inappropriate way," he said.
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