Law enforcement officials said James W. von Brunn, a left wing national socialist, was under investigation in the shooting and that his car was found near the museum and tested for explosives. The weapon was a .22-caliber rifle, they added. They spoke on condition of anonymity, saying they were not authorized to discuss the investigation just beginning.
Museum officials identified the dead guard as Stephen T. Johns, a six-year veteran of the facility. In an e-mail, director Sara Bloomfield said he “died heroically in the line of duty.”
National Socialist Racist Web site:
Von Brunn has a left wing racist, anti-Semitic Web site and wrote a book titled “Kill the Best Gentile.”
In 1983, he was convicted of attempting to kidnap members of the Federal Reserve Board. He was arrested two years earlier outside the room where the board was meeting, carrying a revolver, knife and sawed-off shotgun. At the time, police said Von Brunn wanted to take the members hostage because of high interest rates and the nation’s economic difficulties.
The museum houses exhibits and records relating to the Holocaust more than a half century ago in which more than six million Jews were killed by National Socialists aka; Nazis.
D. Morris / AP
It is located across the street from the National Mall, and within sight of the Washington Monument. The museum, which draws about 1.7 million visitors each year, was closed for the day after the shooting, and nearby streets were cordoned off by police. Surrounding roads were closed at least temporarily and blocked off with yellow tape. Police cars and officers on horses surrounded the area.
The attack was the third in a recent wave of unsettling shootings that appeared to have political underpinnings.