James W. von Brunn, an 88-year-old white supremacist, opened fire in the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday, killing security guard, Stephen T. Johns, before being critically wounded by museum guards.
Officials say when Johns opened the door for von Brunn to tour the museum, the suspect shot Johns in the chest, killing him before he could draw his weapon.
President Barack Obama condemned the gunman's actions in a statement released by the White House. The president said he was "shocked and saddened" by the attack, and that "no act of violence will diminish our determination to honor those who were lost by building a more peaceful and tolerant world."
According to authorities, von Brunn is no stranger to hate crimes and often wrote about his disdain for Jews and blacks. "The Holocaust is a lie. Obama was created by Jews. Obama does what Jew owners tell him to do. Jews captured America's money. Jews control the mass media. The 1st Amendment is abrogated --henceforth," von Brunn wrote.
In past writings, von Brunn claimed the Jews were conspiring "to destroy the White gene-pool," and called the Holocaust a "myth."
Officials from the Simon Wiesenthal Center and other leaders in Jewishis communities denounced the shooting. "It is not surprising that someone who espouses white supremacy would want to attack an institution like that, since Holocaust museums are the antithesis of this person's racist ideology and anti-Semitism," said Efraim Zuroff, SWC's Israel director.
The museum was closed to the public and flags flew at half-staff this week in honor of Johns' death. Police believe von Brunn acted alone.