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Holocaust museum honors man who died trying to stop shooting

THE United States Holocaust Memorial and Museum was shuttered yesterday with its flags at half-mast as it mourned a guard who died stopping a rifle attack by a gunman authorities identified as an 88-year-old white supremacist.

James von Brunn, a Holocaust denier who once tried to kidnap members of the Federal Reserve Board, is the suspect in Wednesday's assault at the museum. Guard Stephen T. Johns was killed.

Security engaged the gunman as soon as he stepped inside the crowded museum and began shooting, authorities said. Johns, 39, who is black, "died heroically in the line of duty," museum director Sara Bloomfield said.

Bouquets of roses, lillies and other flowers were lined up outside the museum walls yesterday morning. The entrance where the shooting occurred was still cordoned off by police tape.

Bloomfield said Johns' training had prepared him well on how to respond to the attack. "So we feel that this actually worked extremely well in terms of how many people's lives were saved in this incident," she said.

One guard shot and critically wounded the assailant, who was being treated at a Washington hospital.

A self-described artist, advertising man and author, von Brunn wrote an anti-Semitic treatise "Kill the Best Gentiles," decried "the browning of America" and claimed to expose a Jewish conspiracy "to destroy the White gene pool."

When von Brunn was captured after the shooting, he had a list he had made of lawmakers on Capitol Hill, according to a law enforcement official, but the purpose of the list was not clear.

Investigators are trying to determine how von Brunn acquired the .22-caliber rifle used in the attack, said other law enforcement officials.

The suspect started shooting inside the museum, which was crowded with schoolchildren and other tourists who all escaped injury.

Ashley Camp, 14, of Forsyth, Illinois, said a security guard ordered her group to run to the exit after she heard two or three gunshots.

"I thought it was the movie (part of a museum exhibit)," she said, "but then everyone started screaming and running."

Von Brunn was sentenced in 1983 for attempted armed kidnapping and other charges in his 1981 bid to seize Fed board members. A guard captured him outside the room where the board was meeting. He had a revolver, sawed-off shotgun and knife in a bag with him. He served more than six years in prison.


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