In Note, More Clues to Holocaust Museum Killing

June 11, 2009

Author: Theo Emery and Liz Robbins

Source: The New York Times

Stephen Tyrone Johns opened a door of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum on Wednesday afternoon, witnesses said, probably thinking that James W. von Brunn was just another elderly visitor needing help to get inside.

Mr. Johns apparently did not notice that Mr. von Brunn, 88, whose anti-Semitic and white supremacist views were known to federal authorities, was carrying a .22-caliber rifle at his side, law enforcement officials said Thursday. Mr. von Brunn stepped into the lobby, raised the weapon and shot Mr. Johns in the upper chest at close range, officials said. Mr. Johns died a few hours later.

Two armed security guards fired back, wounding Mr. von Brunn in the face and sending panicked tourists, including groups of schoolchildren, diving for cover.

Mr. von Brunn, who was in critical condition at George Washington University Hospital, was charged with murder on Thursday in the death of Mr. Johns, 39, from Temple Hills, Md. The victim, who worked for the private security company Wackenhut Services Inc., had been assigned to the museum for six years.

The rifle was recovered at the scene, and Mr. von Brunn was also charged with possessing and shooting a firearm in a federal building. Federal Bureau of Investigation authorities are pursuing civil rights and hate crimes charges against Mr. von Brunn, who is thought to have acted alone.

A notebook that law enforcement officers discovered in Mr. von Brunn’s 2002 red Hyundai, which he had double-parked outside the museum’s 14th Street entrance on Wednesday, appeared to offer insight into his mind-set before the shooting.

“You want my weapons — this is how you’ll get them,” Mr. von Brunn wrote in a note he had signed, according to the arrest affidavit.

“The Holocaust is a lie,” the note read. “Obama was created by Jews. Obama does what his Jew owners tell him to do. Jews captured America’s money. Jews control the mass media.”

Mr. von Brunn’s note refers to himself in the third person by his initials, JVB, saying that he swore “to defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic.”

He lashes out at Jews and includes the name of his book, “Kill the Best Gentiles!”

The shooting was the third publicized anti-Semitic incident in the last five weeks. In early May, a Wesleyan University student of Jewish heritage was fatally shot on the Connecticut campus by a man who had written in his personal journal that he thought it was “O.K. to kill Jews.”