Today, we know more about the man authorities say walked into the U.S. Holocaust Museum Wednesday and started shooting.
In a statement, President Obama called the shooting an outrageous act at a place of solemn remembrance and he praised the museum’s guards for preventing more harm.
Authorities say he walked into the Holocaust Museum armed and filled with hate. In one interview, a cousin says his family disowned him, believing him to be mentally ill.
At the U.S. Holocaust Museum flags are at half-staff, the museum closed today in honor of security guard Stephen Tyrone Johns.
Holocaust Museum Director Sara Bloomfield said “a great friend who greeted us every day with a wonderful smile on his face. And he will be sorely missed.”
Johns was working at the museum’s entrance, a half mile from the White House when police say 88-year-old James Von Brunn of Maryland walked in and with a small caliber rifle opened fire.
A witness said “there was shattered glass, and the police officers were screaming at us to get down.”
DC Police Chief Cathy Lanier said “it appears that immediately as he entered he raise the rifle and started shooting.”
Johns was struck. Officials say guards returned fire. Von Brunn was shot in the face. Von Brunn called himself a white supremacist on this website, ranting his anti-black views and complaining jews were taking over the government.
Mark Potok of the Southern Poverty Law Center said “what you find is that the man was an extreme anti-semite and also that he was associated with some of the leading neo-nazi figures in this country.”
Von Brunn’s neighbor, Harold Olynnger, said “he was just kind of stand-offish. He didn’t talk to anybody.”
Neighbors in Annapolis say Von Brunn was quiet, but once said off-hand the Holocaust was a hoax. Von Brunn’s neighbor, Joshua Shyman, said “I’ve been living amongst a guy who despised my religion. It scares me because, I mean, anyone could be like him.”
Von Brunn brags online about having stormed the Federal Reserve Building in 1981 with guns and a knife. He says he aimed to take hostages, blaming jews for high interest rates. He spent seven years in prison.
Von Brunn is now in critical condition after surgery. Law enforcement sources say he was carrying a list of nine other locations, including the White House and the Capitol, as if he may have been planning other attacks too.