At a Monument of Sorrow, A Burst of Deadly Violence
July 10, 2009
The guard, who did not have time to draw his gun, fell bleeding and fatally wounded to the polished floor. Other guards fired back, cutting down the assailant. Terrified patrons, many of them children, dived for safety. And what moments before had been a bright weekday in June became a tableau of violence.
As described by bystanders and authorities, the attack inside the famed Holocaust museum turned the crowded building and Washington's nearby tourist-thronged Mall into a scene of fear and chaos, with black-clad SWAT teams, hovering helicopters and racing emergency vehicles. Stunned witnesses described a fusillade of gunfire -- five shots or more -- the blood-streaked floor and the screams of frightened visitors inside the museum and on the street.
"It's like a scene from a movie," said Edward Bhopa, 54. "A horror movie," added his son Andy, 28.
The suspect, identified by law enforcement sources as James W. von Brunn, 88, of Annapolis, was said to be a longtime, "hard-core" supremacist whose Internet writings contain extensive, poisonous ravings against Jews and African Americans.
The slain guard, Stephen T. Johns, 39, of Temple Hills, worked for the Wackenhut security company and had been employed at the museum for six years