Wednesday, June 10, 2009

United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Shooting - June 10, 2009

President Barack Obama places a flower at a memorial at Buchenwald Nazi concentration camp, June 5, 2009. With the President are German chancellor Angela Merkel, Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel, and camp survivor Bertrand Herz.

On June 10, 2009, a lone gunman shot a museum security guard, Stephen Tyrone Johns who later died of his injuries at the hospital. The alleged shooter, having been shot by security staff, was identified as 88-year old James von Brunn, a white supremacist with a well-known criminal history.

Several news agencies have noted the timing of the June 10 shooting at the museum that came shortly after Obama's June 5 visit to and speech at the Buchenwald concentration camp, Germay, and that may have set off the shooter.

Von Brunn, a white supremacist and Holocaust denier, has written many antisemitic essays, created an antisemitic website called The Holy Western Empire, and is the author of a 1999 self published book, Kill the Best Gentiles, which praises Adolf Hitler and denies the Holocaust.

Von Brunn was born on July 11, 1920 in St. Louis, Missouri. He served in the United States Navy for 14 years, and was a commanding officer of PT boat 159 during World War II in the Pacific Theater, receiving a commendation and three battle stars. He enrolled in Washington University in St. Louis in 1938 and received his Bachelor of Science in journalism in 1943.

During his time at the university, von Brunn was said to have been president of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon chapter and a varsity football player. Von Brunn had worked as an advertising executive and producer in New York City for 20 years. In the late 1960s he moved to the Eastern Shore of Maryland where he continued to do advertising work and began painting.

Von Brunn's arrest history dates back at least as far as the 1960s. In 1968, he received a six-month jail sentence in Maryland for fighting with a sheriff during an incident at the county jail. He had earlier been arrested for driving under the influence following an altercation at a local restaurant.

Von Brunn was arrested in 1981 for attempted kidnapping and hostage-taking, of members of the Federal Reserve Board, after approaching the Federal Reserve's Eccles Building armed with a revolver, knife, and sawed-off shotgun. He reportedly complained of "high interest rates" during the incident and was disarmed without any shots being fired, after threatening a security guard with a .38 caliber pistol. He reportedly claimed he had a bomb, which was found to be only a device designed to look like a bomb. He was convicted in 1983 for burglary, assault, weapons charges, and attempted kidnapping. Von Brunn's sentence was completed by September 15, 1989, having served six and a half years in prison.

Von Brunn was a member of the now-defunct American Friends of the British National Party, a group that raised funds in the United States for the far right and whites-only British National Party (BNP).

In a statement, von Brunn's son, Erik, expressed sorrow and horror about the shooting, and said his father's "beliefs have been a constant source of verbal and mental abuse my family has had to suffer with for many years. His views consumed him, and in doing so, not only destroyed his life, but destroyed our family and ruined our lives as well." The younger von Brunn, who is 32, said that he did not know his father until he was nearly 11 years old, after he completed his prison term for the Federal Reserve incident.

Source: Wikipedia (All text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License)

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