The shooter and the hero


According to a report from The Washington Post, in a media briefing Thursday, Bill Parsons, chief of staff at the Holocaust museum, said that security officer Stephen Johns went out of his way to open the door of the museum for James W. von Brunn yesterday, not realizing that the 88-year-old white supremacist was armed and intending to shoot him.

"Stephen opened that door for the elderly man coming in — he was caring about him, and he opened the door and he was shot," Parsons said at a news briefing.

The Post profiled the slain security guard:

Friends and colleagues called Stephen T. Johns "Big John," for he was well over 6 feet tall. But mostly they recalled the security guard’s constant courtesy and friendliness.

"A soft-spoken, gentle giant," said Milton Talley, a former employee of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, where Johns was killed yesterday in the line of duty — shot, authorities said, by an avowed white supremacist who entered the museum with a rifle.

"A wonderful individual . . . a truly jovial human being," museum director Sara J. Bloomfield said on this morning on NBC’s "Today" show. …

Read the full profile.

And the newspaper also took a comprehensive look at the shooter, describing him as an "avowed white supremacist and anti-Semite" who had recently declared that it was "time to kill all the Jews":

James W. von Brunn was growing despondent.

John de Nugent, an acquaintance who describes himself as a white separatist, noticed the change when they last spoke two weeks ago.

"He said his Social Security had been cut and that he was barely making it," de Nugent said. "He felt it was the direct result of someone in Washington looking at his Web site."

In one of his e-mail blasts expressing his white supremacist views, the man police sources say shot and killed a security guard yesterday at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum told readers that they shouldn’t expect to hear from him again. Von Brunn was shot and critically wounded by museum guards.

He was about to give away his computer, his primary connection to the fringe world of radical racists. He was living hand to mouth.

The e-mails were getting violent in tone: "It’s time to kill all the Jews." …

Click here to read the full story.

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