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. workaholic

    Right wing replublicans neo-nazi nuts are at work again. Fox snooze Rush Liebot Sly hannity Bil Oreally have been preaching hate for years and getting away with it. America needs to do something about that.

    June 10, 2009 07:08 pm at 7:08 pm |
  2. Vietnam Vet71

    I grew up in South Carolina during the time of Jim Crow Laws. We need to grow up as a national and live up to the laws in our Constitution. RACISM MUST GO, whether it's Faux Network trying to imply wedge issues like......... Guilty by association....

    June 10, 2009 07:09 pm at 7:09 pm |
  3. Mike in NYC

    White Nationalists despise White GOPers, whom they consider race traitors, even more than they do liberals.

    Really, would right-wing talk radio inspire someone to go shoot up a Holocaust museum? Your average GOPer absolutely worships Jews and Israel.

    Lots of left-wing stupidity and delusion in evidence on this board.

    June 10, 2009 07:11 pm at 7:11 pm |
  4. eric

    I will pray for the family of all the victims, especially the security officer. This world, this country, is so filled with hate it scares me. Why cannot the people of the most "enlightened" country in the world not get along?

    June 10, 2009 07:14 pm at 7:14 pm |
  5. Kurt

    WOW... already the main focal point is where did the gun come from??? Who cares, people are dead that is the thing that people should be thinking about. This gun could have been owned by 20 different people and what then? The gun had a bad day and decided to talk his owner into killing people? The press is heartless and driven by agenda. Sick.

    June 10, 2009 07:15 pm at 7:15 pm |
  6. Tyrone Brown

    My prayer go out to the family of Stephen Tyrone Johns who was killed today at the Holocaust Museum. May he rest in peace.

    June 10, 2009 07:15 pm at 7:15 pm |
  7. Greg, San Francisco, CA

    My sincerest condolences to the family of Mr. Johns. Agree with whaley441 that he probably saved many lives. As far as the shooter is concerned, I actually hope he lives. Not because he deserves it but because making him a martyr to his 'cause' is possibly the only thing that could make this situation worse. A sad day.

    June 10, 2009 07:18 pm at 7:18 pm |
  8. Matt

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

    This has to be one of the most inane comments ever posted on CNN. The author is a ridiculous demagogue.

    June 10, 2009 07:19 pm at 7:19 pm |
  9. Steve (the real one)

    @Ken, Dan, SF Serg, Lori, Enlightened Voter, Factcheck, historyrepeats, and Jared
    How is this becoming a political issue? A Racist bigot shot and killed a man! Please tell me where either man's political beliefs appear in the story! Your posts are ignorant! Save your hate for another day..an innocent man is dead. What's wrong with you people?

    June 10, 2009 07:21 pm at 7:21 pm |
  10. tedious898

    Is there any reason we should find it surprising that while our televisions are filled (on a daily basis) with incendiary terms such as "racist, terrorist, muslim, socialist... and the list goes on" that this doesn't result in murder? I'll let each of us decide which group of people are doing the "hate speech" promoting.

    Heck.... it can't be that much of a reach to see it as motivation to go out and kill.

    June 10, 2009 07:23 pm at 7:23 pm |
  11. Gerry

    How really stupid some of you are. A peace officer gets murdered and all you can do is try and make something political out of it. Totally stupid.

    June 10, 2009 07:25 pm at 7:25 pm |
  12. makesUwonder

    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'm sure these people posting their hate here do not know the story about Pvt. Long and I'm sure it's safe to say they don't care. How sad. Yet, they are so quick to blame FoxNews, Rush, Hannity, and so on when a nut case does what he did today. As you say, there is hate in this world and it comes in every shape, form, and color.

    With that being said.........Thank you Stephen Tyrone Johns for being a HERO today and may you rest in peace. My prayers go out to all the victims in today's tragedy.

    June 10, 2009 07:27 pm at 7:27 pm |
  13. history repeats

    Dawn in Pa


    June 10, 2009 07:33 pm at 7:33 pm |
  14. jb

    Why oh why would anybody try to bring current political landscapes of the United States into a worldwide problem of racism? Blaming any racist, extremist violent act on right wingers is like the left accepting blame for any extreme violent act committed due to a left-wing ideology, namely anytime a Muslim kills in the name of Allah. I know, sounds crazy right but the neocons believe that the left panders to and encourages this group of extremists and they have plenty of 'ammunition' to back up their claims. Everyone just needs to understand that in our country of 305 million people there are going to be quite a few crazy people that do crazy things. Just come spend one Friday evening in the ER with me and you'll see what I'm talking about.

    June 10, 2009 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
  15. ran is a hypocrite

    June 10th, 2009 5:28 pm ET

    Ran says:

    Let him suffer in pain until he dies.

    I thought libs were completely against torture? While I do not approve of the act and seriously hope this old man gets what he deserves, it amazes me how the thought of torturing another human being is now OK? I thought, according to libs, it is not the American way. What a hypocrite!!

    June 10, 2009 07:42 pm at 7:42 pm |
  16. BusyMom

    Another right wing domestic terrorist just like the Homeland Security memo that the GOP had a hissy fit about predicted. GOP spokespeople like Michele Bachmann, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck and Bill O'Reilly should be ashamed of themselves for stoking the fires of hate with distorted information on a daily basis. This is the fourth domestic terrorist incident attributed to a right wing extremist. Those GOP spokespeople have a right to free speech but they also have a duty to report facts and not to stoop to dramatic distortions that inflame hatred and paranoia of the most extreme members of their party.

    June 10, 2009 07:44 pm at 7:44 pm |
  17. JT

    Go with both Domestic Terrorism AND Murder. This man is evil incarnate. Also, I think his estate should be given to the guard's family. Don't think he'll be needing it any longer.

    What a pathetic, pathetic legacy Von Brunn has left for his family.

    June 10, 2009 07:45 pm at 7:45 pm |
  18. Fed up

    The rhetoric of Palin, Limbaugh, Gingrich, and Chaney to name a few just adds ammunition to these right wing racists nuts. No they did not pull the trigger but they add fire to fuel. Then they pretend that they don't realize it.

    June 10, 2009 07:53 pm at 7:53 pm |
  19. Turnabout is Fair Play

    For the neo-con Right who was so scared President Obama would take away your guns? With stupid violence and hate like this, would you blame him if he did take them away at this point?

    June 10, 2009 07:54 pm at 7:54 pm |
  20. DaBird

    Any nut that referred to Republicans in their comments are really touched. That's the same as blaming Democrats for the Muslim shooting the Army recruiter. Please quit being sheep AND THINK WITH YOUR MIND, USE COMMON SENSE. There are nuts in this world.

    June 10, 2009 07:55 pm at 7:55 pm |
  21. Frances

    Since Obama's election, the haters really have come out. This man's name was on a conservative website (since taken off) that believes Obama is not a citizen. A doctor killed in church by a "prolifer". There are hateful messages all over the internet, many at FOX. Many talk show hosts spew hatred and extreme views that make little sense. However, there are those wackos out there who think the t.v. is actually talking to them.

    June 10, 2009 07:55 pm at 7:55 pm |
  22. Johnathan

    How can anyone in their right mind be dismayed at anyone shooting anyone else in a country that seemingly won't settle for anything less than a gun vending machine at every corner in america. Enough with the argument that people kill people, not guns. WRONG!

    We ought to change the saying "a chicken in every pot" to "a couple of Uzzi's in every home"

    June 10, 2009 07:58 pm at 7:58 pm |
  23. Alex

    If this isn't a "hate crime", then "hate crimes" don't exist!

    June 10, 2009 08:03 pm at 8:03 pm |
  24. Back to Simple Life

    I wish someone would tone down the hateful rhetoric both on tv and in the on-line blogs and websites.

    I believe they will make more of an effort now to trace those who speak hate and incitement. I sure hope so.

    June 10, 2009 08:04 pm at 8:04 pm |
  25. BooBarry

    Why show the picture of the Black Victim instead of the face of the Murderer??? Oh, I forgot HE'S WHITE. I'm confused...!!!!!!!!!!

    June 10, 2009 08:06 pm at 8:06 pm |
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