June 10th, 2009
05:55 PM ET
5 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. Todd

    The Taliban are among us – and our Taliban are Republican hate-filled right-wing fanatical Christians.

    June 10, 2009 06:34 pm at 6:34 pm |
  2. Post always rejected by CNN

    Seems like you are a target if you go anywhere. There is always some nutcase wanting to shoot you if you dont' agree with them. TALK ABOUT GOVERNMENT TAKING AWAY FREEDOMS. Looks like the public is the one doing that. They want everyone to walk in lockstep with their beliefs.

    June 10, 2009 06:35 pm at 6:35 pm |
  3. silly rabbit

    88 years is a LONG time to be hating people. This accused shooter just took away someone's son, possibly father husbad or brother just because of skin color. Yet there are still some who want to turn a blind eye to this situation. During Palin rallies when the cries of "KILL HIM", "Terrorist", and other racial slurs flew out, it was just dismissed as a small segment of "good ol' boys" just having fun...probably had a ew beers before they showed up. I guess these are the same folks that showed up at so-called tea parties to protest taxes wearing racially insulting Obama t-shirts and holding equally insulting signs. Then we have a left wing extremist kill a young soldier and wound another because of his insane beliefs. And yet all what wil happen the next few days will be arguments with the left blaming the right, gun control, freedom of speech and fear tactics.

    June 10, 2009 06:35 pm at 6:35 pm |
  4. big papa

    What do we expect from right wing fanatics...

    ...who are the progeny of lynchers, night riders, murderers and rapists...

    ...and whose leaders advocate wars of choice, torture, and depletion of the treasury to benefit the privileged few?

    ...If justice is to be meted out...

    ...why not start with their so-called leaders?

    June 10, 2009 06:39 pm at 6:39 pm |
  5. Angie, AZ

    I hope the shooter doesn't die so he can face the charges of first degree murder.

    June 10, 2009 06:44 pm at 6:44 pm |
  6. dennis

    It very sad to see the u.s.a. turn into a foreign country. Why can't u.s. people buy these businesses. ARE WE THE MOST POWERFUL COUNTRY if so why are the foreigners buying up all these companies.....

    June 10, 2009 06:44 pm at 6:44 pm |
  7. Cynthia - Arkansas

    I have been saying for awhile that you can't have all of these Republicans on Fox News spewing hate to ignorant people without something terrible happening. It's starting and will not stop until this hate speech stops. They are creating a mob mentality and it is dangerous. The likes of O' Reilly, Hannity, Rush, Coulter, and Beck feeding them full of hate and anger and them say it's not their fault when something bad happens. YES IT IS!

    PLEASE PUT A STOP TO THIS BEFORE MORE INNOCENT PEOPLE ARE KILLED!

    June 10, 2009 06:44 pm at 6:44 pm |
  8. Pam

    I hope the shooter lives. Dying would be an easy exit for the coward. Let him slowly rot in jail.

    June 10, 2009 06:44 pm at 6:44 pm |
  9. susannah

    Wow, for all the talk from the Republicans of stomping out terrorism, all they've done is increase it. Osama bin Laden is still at large; countless other Muslim extremists have become invigorated by our endless wars in their countries which kill thousands of innocent civilians; and thanks to the likes of Sarah Palin, the conservative talk show hosts and Fox "News" we now have homegrown terrorists who think nothing of shooting doctors in churches or security guards at museums. I strongly believe that historians will implicate the conservative movement and the Republican party in the breeding of a culture of brazen hate and misguided vigilantism that will threaten our peace at home for years to come.

    June 10, 2009 06:46 pm at 6:46 pm |
  10. ron

    Forget about the GitMo detainees, you already have terrorist in the country who want to kill Americans. They're already organized and protected by the constitution. I guess the GOP will have to find another scare tactic.

    June 10, 2009 06:47 pm at 6:47 pm |
  11. S. Denice

    I have been blogging consistently about the increase in hate crimes DIRECTLY DUE to the bitter, venomous hate rhetoric that is spewed across the airwaves daily by those like Limbaugh, Hannity, and all those other criminal, deranged, insane, demonic conservative republicans. Where's justice America?

    June 10, 2009 06:47 pm at 6:47 pm |
  12. chuck

    For all of these dodo birds that don't understand the easy logic of hate crimes, let me try to explain it for the one millionth time. If 12 year old red headed girls are being murdered in your community for no reason, then your community has a disproportionate number of 12 year old red headed girls being murdered. This preponderance of evidence suggests that something needs to be done to protect 12 year old red headed girls within your community. We raise the penalty for anyone who shoots a 12 year old red headed girl because they need the most protection within your community. Easy logic!!!!!! Unless you have zero sympathy for 12 year old red headed girls who should figure out themselves how to dodge impending bullets.

    June 10, 2009 06:49 pm at 6:49 pm |
  13. Michele

    If this isn't proof that O'Reilly, Hannity, Beck, Limbaugh, and Coulter should apologize and then shut up, then what is? An abortion doctor killed in church, and they say "fine." A soldier killed outside a recruiting station...they say "Where's the outrage!" A man opens fire at a federal museum, and what will they say now? Obama instigated hate against Jews?
    Say what you will about liberals, but we do not go around shooting people on the orders of a TV entertainer turned anti-American. We think about things, and we might complain, but no liberal ever threatened Bush or Cheney with death, let alone went after them with a gun. These shootings, and the recent family killings, are the result of the NRA and all those people who think the 2nd amendment gives them the right to own any and all weapons, and to raise one whenever you dislike someone. I hear you "just enforce the laws we already have." Well, this guy was a felon, and he managed to get a gun....maybe we should just get rid of the GUNS! Guns kill people!

    June 10, 2009 06:49 pm at 6:49 pm |
  14. geez

    Wright is not news and he is only reported on by FOX.

    All I can say to that is the reason the mainstream media does not report on Wright is they know Wright is a poor reflection on Obama, Obama's past, his associations, would remind Americans that Obama sat in a hate mongering so-called church for 20 years. Of course no other media outlet makes news of Wright!

    June 10, 2009 06:49 pm at 6:49 pm |
  15. Proud American

    Why aren't these nut jobs considered Terrorist rounded up, sent to Gitmo and waterboarded for information? Why was the fall out different for Tim McVay, was his total number of deaths too low? What a double standard.

    June 10, 2009 06:52 pm at 6:52 pm |
  16. Dean

    So are the Republicans celebrating? The guard wasn't white, probably wasn't wealthy on a security guard's salary, and didn't fit their idea of "proper Americans". I bet they wish it was Obama, am I right, Cheney? Limbaugh? Gingrich? Palin? Just another dead minority....

    June 10, 2009 06:52 pm at 6:52 pm |
  17. Danielle

    Yuck! That guy is just disgusting!

    Anther psycho with crazy views.

    June 10, 2009 06:53 pm at 6:53 pm |
  18. Moderate Democrat

    HonestMistake June 10th, 2009 5:50 pm ET

    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.
    ----------------------–
    I agree with you. But just to be consistant, Honest Mike....please jump over to the Rev. Wright story and get all bent out of shape about how people associate something that ONE person does and makes their whole PARTY guilty because some NUT CASE did/said soemthing NUTTY and whacked.

    Just saying bro...keep it real!

    June 10, 2009 06:53 pm at 6:53 pm |
  19. Danielle

    I agree white supremacists are a high threat to all of our society. If your views are extreme, you probably have some major issues. Go get help before you do something devastating to the majority of our country.

    June 10, 2009 06:55 pm at 6:55 pm |
  20. ib

    You liberals will make anything; say anything to cover Obama's butt. No republican nor does O'Rielly; or any of the other talk show hosts approve of anyone being killed. To blame them shows how stupid you are; you are disgusting for posting things like this.

    June 10, 2009 06:56 pm at 6:56 pm |
  21. Neilz

    The man is a Nazi. His intent was to start a race war. Like Manson. He drew his inspiration and support from like minded individuals in the media and on the internet. Like Roeder. He believed his god compelled him to action. Like Bledsoe and Roeder. We have met the enemy and he is us.

    June 10, 2009 07:00 pm at 7:00 pm |
  22. once upon a horse

    does a person have to be a liberal becuase they feel sympathy and anger ovr what has happened here? Does a person have to be a conservative because they don't want the fingers pointing at the right and right wing talk show hosts? As a moderate myself I feel the finger pointing if any needs to go to the accused shooters themelves, we need to be able to work together to try to get more tolerence in our nation. The last thing we need is to have the likes of Limbuagh, Rev Wright, Rev Sharpton et al on soapboxes making more division in our nation.

    June 10, 2009 07:03 pm at 7:03 pm |
  23. Lori says a vote for the Republicans is a vote with the White Supremacists

    The right-wing nut cases in this country are equally as evil as Osama Bin Laden. Both hate Jews, both want America and President Obama to fail, and both cause terrorism in America.

    June 10, 2009 07:06 pm at 7:06 pm |
  24. ThinkAboutIt

    My heart goes out to the Stephen Johns' family – to be gunned down in such a senseless, cowardly manner is simply horrific.

    I believe that God is here to comfort us, and hope Mr. Johns family finds solace.

    I'm thankful I'll never understand the depth of evil and emptiness that the shooter knows. What a waste of breath he has been for so many years.

    June 10, 2009 07:06 pm at 7:06 pm |
  25. LacrosseMom

    @ HonestMistake....... Yes, we DO know about Private Long.

    And YES, I DO blame the hate rhetoric of the far-right whether its the
    Islamic extremists or the Republican extremists, for hate crimes!

    A lot of LIES pass as truth on the Hannity & Limbaugh shows, that incenses people who are not well mentality! Like the man who killed THREE policemen in Pittsburgh! The man who killed the Officers, said he was afraid guns would be banned by Obama....... where did he get that idea? Limbaugh, Hannity and the rest of the far-right-GOP-extremists!

    June 10, 2009 07:06 pm at 7:06 pm |
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