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Security Guard Killed in Holocaust Museum Shooting

Posted June. 12, 2009 07:28,   


A white supremacist yesterday triggered a fatal shootout at the Holocaust Memorial Museum, located 900 meters away from the White House in Washington, D.C., killing a security guard.

James W. von Brunn was critically wounded after police returned fire.

Barack Obama’s inauguration as the first black U.S. president has fueled fears over the possibility of far-right violence. The shooting has spurred calls to guard against terrorism in the United States by Americans.

○ Terrorism near the White House

Von Brunn, 88, entered the museum at 12:50 p.m. Wednesday and immediately opened fire on security guards, who shot back. One guard was killed and another injured. The shooter was shot in the face and remains in critical condition.

The museum, which honors the victims of the Nazi Holocaust, is around five blocks away from the White House and a popular tourist attraction drawing around two million visitors every year.

Hundreds of people including young students were in the museum when von Brunn entered. Immediately after the shooting, U.S. Special Forces and helicopters scrambled to the facility and cordoned off the area.

After finding on von Brunn’s laptop computer a list of more than 10 tourist attractions including Washington National Cathedral, police checked the places on the list with bomb-sniffing dogs.

○ Terrorism by white supremacists

Von Brunn is a white supremacist who has long been considered dangerous by human rights organizations and U.S. law enforcement. After divorcing his wife three decades ago, he has lived alone in Annapolis, Maryland.

He runs a Web site attacking Jews and blacks and has written online books. He has even spread conspiracy theories, including one which claims Holocaust records were manipulated.

In 1981, he walked into the Federal Reserve building with a revolver and knife and pointed the gun at security guards. After being captured, he served six years in prison.

At that time, he said the Fed had helped Jews control the money in the United States and planned to kidnap then Fed Chairman Paul Volcker. After his release, he said he was convicted by a Negro jury, Jewish attorneys and a Jewish judge and expressed his hatred for them. He briefly stayed in a village of white supremacists in Hayden, Idaho.

○ Complaints turn into crimes

Von Brunn seems to have chosen the Holocaust museum to commit his attack due to his outrage over President Obama’s honoring of Holocaust victims when he visited Buchenwald, Germany, June 5.

White supremacists and racist groups have not shown signs of a collective violent movement since Obama’s inauguration. The far right seems more anxious and discontent, however, as sensitive issues including abortion, same-sex marriage and stem cell research have gotten more attention.

On May 31, an abortion doctor was shot to death by an anti-abortion activist. The number of hate crimes in the United States also jumped from 602 in 2000 to 926 last year.