June 10th, 2009
05:55 PM ET
9 years ago

Justice officials weighing potential charges in museum shooting

Stephen Tyrone Johns was shot and killed while working at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum on Wednesday.

Stephen Tyrone Johns was shot and killed while working at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum on Wednesday.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Justice Department sources say no preliminary decisions have been made on what charges may be brought against the gunman in the Holocaust Memorial shootings, if the shooter survives his gunshot wounds.

Officials said it was likely that the Metropolitan Police Department may lead the investigation if a decision is made to proceed with firearms or shooting charges, while the FBI will likely be the lead if evidence leads them to file federal civil rights-related charges.

An official says if the shooter survives, charges can be brought against him whether or not he is physically able to appear in court, and if and when he becomes physically able to do so the prosecution would then commence. But it will likely be hours - maybe days - before a decision is made.

Prosecutors had no information on the suspect's medical condition.

UPDATE, 5:55 p.m.: Now that security guard Stephen Tyrone Johns has died, the rifle used by the suspect has potentially become a murder weapon. It is currently in the hands of the U.S. Park Police, which has asked the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms to urgently trace the weapon.

The ATF has asked its weapons tracing center in West Virginia to expedite a trace on the rifle, which could be completed by tomorrow. The trace should at a minimum provide the original sale and ownership of the weapon. The ATF is also trying to determine where the weapon has been, and how it came to be used in the deadly shooting at the Holocaust Museum.

One of many questions is whether the suspect was a convicted felon who should either have turned in his weapons or been barred from owning them.

Related: Guard killed during museum shooting

Filed under: Justice Department
soundoff (164 Responses)
  1. big papa

    Find those who frequent his website (and the anti abortionist websites)...

    ...and who've offered words of support for these murderers...

    ...then come down on them like we would the Taliban or al Qaeda...

    ...there is NO difference between them...

    June 10, 2009 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  2. whaley41

    Prayers to the guards family. He probably saved a lot of lives. I hope the shooter dies. I have no sympathy for trash like him even if he is 88 yrs old.

    June 10, 2009 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  3. Brian G, Sugar Land, TX

    Weighing the charges? For Pete sakes, clearly a murder, clearly a hate crime.

    Sometimes it is best if a violent criminal doesn't survive his wounds.

    June 10, 2009 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  4. Brian

    Why should it be more wrong to shoot someone based on the color of their skin as opposed to say shooting them while trying to steal their wallet? Isn't all crime "hate" crime. All of these labels only serve to make the simple complicated.

    June 10, 2009 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  5. Shalenadiva

    The man killed an officer. What do you mean you don't know what to charge him with... MURDER! These homegron terrorists/ extremists are getting out of hand just like Janet Napoletano's report indicated tehy would after the election of Barack Obama.

    June 10, 2009 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  6. SF Serg

    Proof that ignorance and stupidity can be eternal. Charge the GOP and FOX for spearheading this type of hatred. The good news is that the Republicans are stubborn regressives, which gives liberals the opportunity for long-lasting Democratic control.

    June 10, 2009 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  7. ran

    I say stop any further medical treatment of this guy now and we will not wast any more time or money on this stupid stuff. any person who does what this guy did does not deserve to be treated if he gets hurt. Let him suffer in pain until he dies.

    June 10, 2009 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  8. Marcia, Marcia, Marcia in CA

    Are you kidding me? How about MURDER?

    While you are at it, why not arrest Limbaugh and all the racist right wing nuts who are on the airways inciting violence against innocent, law abiding citizens.

    June 10, 2009 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  9. Lori says let the conservative backlash begin...

    Let the Republican/conservative backlash begin...

    June 10, 2009 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  10. Robin

    I have no sympathy for this man, he should be punished to the fullest extent of the law.

    I have no sympathy for the young muslim convert who murdered a soldier in front of a recruitment office in Little Rock.

    I have no sympathy for the man who murdered the late-term abortion doctor.

    Yes, I'm a Republican, christian, and pro-life.

    No, I am not a racist or a right wing nut job.

    June 10, 2009 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  11. Terry from Texas

    We've seen two acts of domestic terrorism: the killing of the abortion doctor and these killings at the holocaust museum. Religious fundamentalism and racism are natural intellectual positions for deranged people.

    My own family were all Southern Baptist fundamentalists though I am not (any longer). I remember as a boy being told in a sermon that the only residents of Heaven would be the 144,000 best Southern Baptists. People who believe that they and only they have the approval of the Deity feel justified in doing anything – if they are a bit whacko to begin with.

    June 10, 2009 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  12. Melissa

    Personally, I say just let him die.

    June 10, 2009 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  13. SF Serg

    What would he be charged with besides murder? Trespassing? Disturbing the Peace?

    June 10, 2009 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  14. Enlightened Voter

    You can thank the likes of lush limpaugh, hannity, coulter and right wing fanatics for this and similar crimes. The republican party is the party of hate. They are the American Taliban. Janet Napalinito was right about the right wing terrorist groups inhabiting the USA, remember the republicans forced her to apologize and all she did was tell the truth.

    June 10, 2009 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  15. Steph

    Domestic terrorism....and charge the person who sold him the gun with supporting terrorism. The guy has a major criminal record. How did he get a gun?!?!

    The wacko who shot and killed the doctor while he was serving as an usher at his CHURCH should be charged with the same thing.

    My prayers go out to the families of the guard and the doctor.

    June 10, 2009 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  16. Dawn in Pa

    Hearing what had happen to the Holocaust Museum everyone thinks the same. how can this happen... This is an atrocity..

    Go to a Concentration Camp and see if you come away feeling differently.

    If I go on and speak my mind, CNN will not post me...

    June 10, 2009 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  17. FactCheck

    Since Fox News is instigating these acts of terrorism, how are they any different from Al Queda?

    June 10, 2009 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  18. Leah

    How incredibly tragic for the guard and his family. People who want to use this horrendous event to further sling hate and accusations at each other should just tone it down and think about this poor man. He went to his place of work and was gunned down.

    What if it were your family member? Surely we can pause for a day just to honor his lfe.

    June 10, 2009 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  19. history repeats

    gee i wonder if he was a republican.....i wooooonder

    June 10, 2009 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  20. HonestMistake

    Do you want to blame Project Pink or MSNBC for the murder of Pvt. Long. Do any of you even know what happened to Pvt. Long? Quit blaming conservative talk radio every time some extremist does something despicable. There is hate in this world, that is just a fact of life.

    June 10, 2009 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  21. jared

    here you have all these right wing hate groups and extremist going around the country shooting up people and places. probably after listening to shaun hannity all day spew his race coded talk radio and tv hate programs. this is also a result of congressmen like the one in oklahoma that slipped in a bill, for the right to carry guns in national parks . and this same congressman has a unsolved murder case of two beautiful [white] little girls angels gunned down in his state where them folks of that ilk get to roam around w/ guns big bad good ol boys. and think its manly to go around strapped. and gun down innocent people which most of these people are mentally ill. this red state justice and way of life is going to get out of control .where is the FBI? how come they don't track these type of people and arrest them like the black KEYSTONE terrorist that they like to guide and entrap w/ dud explosives. red state racist will be the down fall of this country. its coming truly in the fast lane.

    June 10, 2009 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  22. Dan

    Another product of the right wing nut jobs. Extremists are dangerous. It doesn't matter whether they are about religion, country, or the environment. They all think that their way is the only way. The right wing talking heads have a right to their opinion. The problem is that they aren't even close to being "fair and balanced". They spew their rhetoric as if it is gospel. Watch them screaming on TV. Then watch film of Hitler screaming at rallies. No difference in style. Whip your constituents into a frenzy with half truths, exagerations, and lies that will apeal to them and further your cause. It's not your fault if some of your supporters are unstable. After all, stuff happens.

    June 10, 2009 05:52 pm at 5:52 pm |
  23. Purpose

    Terrorist have struck America. This savage who killed U.S. citizens just to hunt for our Jewish friends, is disgusting. This vile creature is part of a larger picture of terrorism in our country. This disgusting act is tied to the other savage act of terror against the Dr. who performed abortions. This is a growing threat to America. We must combat this terror with all the forces in our possession. We should start profiling all those who fit the description of this growing radical organization. Thugs, terrorist, radicals and evil savages populate this demographic.

    If anybody sees anyone fitting the description of these savages, please contact your local authorities.

    June 10, 2009 05:52 pm at 5:52 pm |
  24. Harold

    we live in a sad time. folks are willing to kill those who disagree with their beliefs or because of their nationality; hate simply destroys and the hateful posts on blogs does nothing but add fuel to the fire for those who are selfish and hateful and prepared to do anthing but right to change what they believe is wrong;
    who would be a proud America today when someone takes the life of a guard at work who was simply trying to support his family;
    just think, how you would feel if the bread winner or a love one in your home was gunned down and killed for no good reason; I am sick to my stomach;

    June 10, 2009 05:52 pm at 5:52 pm |
  25. Ken

    In much the same way that spending excessive money during an election is a form of free speech, so also is an excessive use of firearms.....the shooter was merely trying to express himself. So the headline on FoxNews will read: Sen. McConnell applauds elderly man who exercised his rights to bear arms and free speech in Holocaust Museum shooting.

    You neo-wingnuts keep telling us that your party's problem has been not being extreme-right enough, so you all need to put your money where your big mouths are, get your panties straight, and go all-in on this. I want to see some off-the-chart kooky rhetoric on this subject!

    June 10, 2009 05:56 pm at 5:56 pm |
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