WASHINGTON – James Wenneker von Brunn had double-parked his 2002 red Hyundai outside the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum at lunch Wednesday and was approaching the entrance when security guard Stephen Tyrone Johns “was kind enough to open the door” for him, Washington police Chief Cathy L. Lanier said Thursday.
Von Brunn then raised a 22-caliber rifle he had been carrying at his side, aimed it at Jones and fired once, hitting him in the left upper chest and mortally wounding him, according to an affidavit filed in federal court by FBI Agent Ronald Farnsworth.
The 88-year-old suspect “continued through the door and raised his firearm as if to fire again,” the affidavit said, when two other security guards shot back at him eight times with their .38-caliber service revolvers. Struck in the face, von Brunn fired twice more.
The self-described anti-Semitic ideologue was charged with murder Thursday in Johns’ death. He could face the death penalty if convicted, but acting U.S. Attorney Channing Phillips said no decision had been made as to whether prosecutors would seek it.
Information gathered in the investigation indicated that von Brunn had come to the museum intent on making an extremist political statement and possibly provoking a deadly exchange of gunfire.
“You want my weapons – this is how you’ll get them,” a notebook with handwritten notations left behind in von Brunn’s car stated, according to the affidavit. “The Holocaust is a lie. Obama was created by Jews. Obama does what his Jew owners tell him to do. Jews captured America’s money. Jews control the mass media. The First Amendment is abrogated – henceforth.”
The writings, signed by von Brunn, also made reference to his white supremacist Web site, holywesternempire.org, and his self-published anti-Semitic book, “Kill the Best Gentiles!,” in which he claimed that Jews were engaged in such a secret campaign.
Von Brunn’s rifle contained 10 more rounds of ammunition, the affidavit said.
Officials also conducted a search of von Brunn’s apartment in Annapolis, Md., where Brandy Teel told FBI agents that she lived with von Brunn’s son Erik.
According to the affidavit, Teel said the elder von Brunn had moved in two years ago and was paying $400 a month in rent.