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. Dan

    For those of you who don't think that these nutjobs like Lush and Coulter bear no responsibility, take the case of Richard Poplawski. He shot and killed 3 police officers during a stand-off in Pittsburgh. When asked why he did it, his cousin said that Poplawski feared "the Obama gun ban that's on the way" and "didn't like our rights being infringed upon." President Obama has never said a word about a gun ban. So where did he get this idea? From the conservative mouths who will make anything up to make people fear, and therefore hate, President Obama.

    June 10, 2009 06:01 pm at 6:01 pm |
  2. J.P.

    What's that?!
    A convicted felon used a gun in a crime?!
    How can that be?!
    We have gun laws that prevent violent felons from buying guns!

    See hippies, this is just one more example... if you outlaw guns, only those who have no respect for the laws will have them. This man KNEW he was not legally allowed to have a weapon. But he managed to get one anyway, IN SPITE of the laws preventing it.

    But I'm probably wrong anyway, right? Say, how is drug prohibition working these days?

    June 10, 2009 06:03 pm at 6:03 pm |
  3. JonDie

    Everyone has his or her own excuse for violence. This individual is no different that the man who murdered Dr. Tiller.

    Worse yet, the Republican Party and its leader Rush LImbaugh promote this "if you don't like someone kill them, they're evil" philosophy.

    June 10, 2009 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  4. Claudia Miles

    Everyone notices a Black man running down the street. No one pays attention to a white man in a red car, carrying a "large gun," running into a museum. In both instances a Black man is killed. Go figure.

    June 10, 2009 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  5. Sniffit

    Roeder claimed to know of other plots to commit acts similar to his (shooting the abortion doctor) around the country in an AP interview. I suppose we should be torturing him since he has credible information about imminent attacks on US citizens, eh GOPers? How about we send the angry white supremecist to GItmo so we can waterboard him and find the rest of his Klan to snuff it out?

    June 10, 2009 06:05 pm at 6:05 pm |
  6. Sniffit

    I bet they found a prayer card with St. McVeigh's picture on it in his wallet...with a prayer addressed to "Our Holy Father Limbaugh."

    June 10, 2009 06:06 pm at 6:06 pm |
  7. malclave

    You liberals are pathetic. You seriously think that this lunatic, or the one who shot Tiller, is representative of conservatives.

    Meanwhile, you are silent on the murder of Private Long, probably because you just don't care. He was a US servicemember, but exploiting his murder doesn't fit into your political objectives, so you and your media lapdogs ignore it.

    Now, you use this to justify the Obama administration's attacks on conservatives' lawful protests. Is there a single liberal around here who actually believes in tolerance?

    Of course, CNN will never approve this comment, because it doesn't further the causes of left-wing ascendancy and right-wing suppression.

    June 10, 2009 06:07 pm at 6:07 pm |
  8. mmg

    Everyone knock off the blame and hate for a moment and send out condolences to this man's family...Please get a grip, It is not Democrat or a Republican issue ... this is a death for goodness sake.
    Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family of Stephen.

    June 10, 2009 06:09 pm at 6:09 pm |
  9. Jake AZ

    Here we go ... The radical right crazies are starting to boil over the top of the pot.

    This is all the fault of the Republican party's inability to effectively placate the nuts within their midst. Harsh discordant Republican language is heard on all stations and channels throughout the land. And this harsh language is angering, empowering, and energizing folks into doing anti-social acts that they wouldn't do during less politically combative times. Republican discord is destroying social controls.

    Murder an abortion doctor? No problem ... go for it.
    Punish innocent ethnic minorities with a gun? No problem ... go for it.

    The Republicans are talking us into anarchy.

    June 10, 2009 06:09 pm at 6:09 pm |
  10. The Party of NO is only “pro-life” to save a zygote now, so it can then kill the “babies” 18 years later as soldiers in an elective religious war.

    The toll mounts, first 3 policeman killed because the killer thought President Obama was going to take his guns away.

    Then an army recruit is killed because of a "religious jihad" for his new religion..

    A doctor that performs abortions is killed and the killer is "thankful:

    Now, this White Supremacist goes after folks at the Holocaust Museum.

    It is time for radio host,s political pundits, supposed "christians" and cable chatter bobble-heads to stop fanning the flames of hate, racism and bigotry in this country or this will only get worse.

    June 10, 2009 06:11 pm at 6:11 pm |
  11. awaitingliberalizationbyCNN

    This sad incident certainly got more coverage on CNN that that Islam nut who shot the two soldiers in Arkansas. Is CNN (at the direction of Emmanuel, through Carville and Begala) trying to insinuate that Napolitanos insane comments about the right wing are correct or is it just sloppy jounalism (so to speak) by CNN and the main stream media. It's working read Terry from Texas, he is a dope smokin' Obama believer.

    June 10, 2009 06:12 pm at 6:12 pm |
  12. southerncousin

    Speaking of nut jobs Dan@ if you can stop spewing your hate for a few minutes, would you care to comment on the Islamist who shot those two soldiers in Arkansas last week. I know CNN didn't carry it, but you may want to put down the bong and check it out before condeming the conservatives with your hateful, marijuana induced invective.

    June 10, 2009 06:16 pm at 6:16 pm |
  13. lil

    We all need to stop listening to consevative talk radio and hate mongering.

    June 10, 2009 06:16 pm at 6:16 pm |
  14. alvino

    A recent survey reported that 1/3 of republicans are not happy with the direction of their party. I wonder if it has anything to do with a lack of ideas, or just that not all republicans are haters.

    June 10, 2009 06:19 pm at 6:19 pm |
  15. matt

    there are dangerous people from the left as there are from the right like obama and his followers like Rev Wright who attack Israel and the jews daily wanting them to give up land for false peace I am against the killing today in Washington and my prayers are with the officers family

    June 10, 2009 06:19 pm at 6:19 pm |
  16. Expat American

    The Republican/Conservative/Right has run out of options. All that remains for them is violence. This is a proud day for them; especially the Palin Lynch Mob.

    June 10, 2009 06:20 pm at 6:20 pm |
  17. Candy West Virginia

    Republicans, take responsibility for the hate you continuously put out there against those not like you and against our President! Us Americans are tired of the hate! Enough is enough!

    June 10, 2009 06:20 pm at 6:20 pm |
  18. Simmy

    It's a hate crime.........

    June 10, 2009 06:20 pm at 6:20 pm |
  19. Mike Dallas

    I wander if the neo-cons in the GOP and Fox News will be offering apologies to Napilatano and DHS.

    They ripped her a new one for publicizing a report that was requested by Bush, and warned against this very thing, a white supremacist lunatic veteran going off the deep end due to the hate stirred up by all the rhetoric of "us vs them" used so well as a wedge by the neo-cons.

    Who needs to worry about enemies without when we have the "christian taliban" doing such a fine job from within.

    June 10, 2009 06:21 pm at 6:21 pm |
  20. jeff

    this is to all the hate left idoits obama followers there are more supports of Israel and the jewish people on right then on the left the Liberals and the Democrates attack is daily so in other words the lying left is at it again

    June 10, 2009 06:21 pm at 6:21 pm |
  21. jeff

    again heres to the idoits on the board who blame the right well there are more supporters of Israel and the Jewish people then there on the left so enough with your lies

    June 10, 2009 06:23 pm at 6:23 pm |
  22. Julia Byrd- Hayden Idaho

    These terrorist need to be stopped. How can these people be so heartless when our Jewish Brothers have suffered so much in the past. We are all God's Children. We need to deal with our home-grown terrorist.

    June 10, 2009 06:25 pm at 6:25 pm |
  23. Rob in Detroit Mi.

    Did'nt homeland security come out about a month ago saying be on the look out for this kind of person but know the Republicans came out saying the adminstration was attacking right-wing conservitive's.
    Rush,coulter,malkin,and the rest of the nutjobs need to take a look at the dead guard who died a hero.all the far right is to blame for this crime.

    June 10, 2009 06:25 pm at 6:25 pm |
  24. The Rev'd Fr Raymond Burgoon-Clark

    Control the manufacture and sale of AMMO. Do it NOW. The Second Amendment says NOTHING about THAT.

    Once again, the Reich (sic) Wing has blood on its hands. Liberals don't kill people; reich (sic) wing fascists kill people.

    June 10, 2009 06:27 pm at 6:27 pm |
  25. Joe

    Responding to 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."

    One purpose of hate crime legislation is to prosecute crime not only for its effect upon the direct victim but for the terror in incites in a community. If you burn a building down you can be convicted of arson. If you burn that same building down, however, because you are making an ideological point and trying to incite fear, you can be prosecuted for terrorism in addition. If you murder someone because they are of a particular race, rather than simply for their money, you are sending a message to other people of that race. Hate crimes legislation would allow for a harsher sentence in this case. I would agree that in many cases in can be difficult to determine the actual motive of a crime but this is what juries are for. They determine motive all the time in cases of manslaughter vs. murder and perjury vs. obstruction of justice.

    June 10, 2009 06:33 pm at 6:33 pm |
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