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. John in IL

    Man there is a lot of hate on here.

    June 10, 2009 09:05 pm at 9:05 pm |
  2. AAl

    this is so sad to hear with all the problems that we are facing why such horriable killings?

    June 10, 2009 09:07 pm at 9:07 pm |
  3. Sue, OH

    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.

    Are you serious??? HonestMistake what mistake.....you forgot how to turn the radio dial and listened to Rush and his hate speech

    June 10, 2009 09:08 pm at 9:08 pm |
  4. Necie in OKC

    To: Robin June 10th, 2009 5:38 pm ET

    Thank you and well put. I feel the same way and I'm Democrat, Christian and Pro-Choice.

    There is NO difference between this man, the murderer who kill the abortion doctor and Bin Laden and his gang of terrorist...except the US terrorists look and talk like us. It's a shame to worry about being attacked by your own countrymen. These murderers should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

    June 10, 2009 09:10 pm at 9:10 pm |
  5. bozo bama

    i guess it would be a fantasy to think that Holder would think about a hate crime against the MUSLIM that killed one soldier and wounded another ?? no, wrong color. and religion..my apology..

    June 10, 2009 09:11 pm at 9:11 pm |
  6. Otto

    This is way out in left field but there is one certain way to save American from these nut jobs; close down FOX5 and disallow all crazy people from spewing their hatred.

    The likes of Rush, Coulter and all the other fruit cakes should be banned and they should also be charged for being an accessory to murder. There seem to be more terrorist in the USA than the like of Bin Laden. If these criminal was to get their hands on hard core weapons, they'll use it. White supremacists have been around for a long time and it's full time to rid society of their scourge.

    We are not at war with ourselves and there is no reason a person should have multiple weapons.

    June 10, 2009 09:12 pm at 9:12 pm |
  7. Opus X

    The GOP is the party of hate? Based on the majority of these comments I would have to conclude that the GOP is well represented because there is a lot of venom being tossed about. Thank God for the tolerant left.

    Fox, Hannity and Limbaugh are the cause of these acts? Get a grip, people.

    June 10, 2009 09:15 pm at 9:15 pm |
  8. Obama For 12

    88 years old....why wasn't he under supervision especially after his past escapade of attempting to kidnap members of the Federal Reserve board? Can't even trust our senior, senior citizens to do the right thing...another embarrassment to the US of A. When will we stop attacking our own people?

    June 10, 2009 09:17 pm at 9:17 pm |
  9. Mary Kay from Florida

    The FBI needs to increase the level of rigor around domestic terrorism and work with local officials to protect citizens. We know who these folks are and they need to be stopped! Of course Limbaugh, Gingrich, Coulter, Hannity, O'Reilly, Cheney and elected officials like Palin (who I saw do NOTHING when a right wing nut job sherriff in Florida incited a crowd during the presidential campaign), Bachman (who everyone knows her antics), Posner (Florida Congressman who is pushed for legislation to demand President Obama prove citizenship), and others create this atmospher of hate. Their inflammatory rhetoric emboldens these nut cases. Intelligent Americans must stand up to this. I am more concerned aboute the Domestic terrorists than international terrorism.

    June 10, 2009 09:27 pm at 9:27 pm |
  10. Insurgent

    Is this man a Christian terrorist or are we not allowed to say that?

    June 10, 2009 09:30 pm at 9:30 pm |
  11. quarterback

    The shooter is a domestic terrorist.

    Try him. Sentence him. Execute him.

    June 10, 2009 09:30 pm at 9:30 pm |
  12. My prayers to the John's family

    My prayers and condolences to the Jones family. The conservative right wing nuts are partially responsible for the increase of racist chatter and threats as cited by the feds. Of course Hannity, Limbaugh, Steele, Gingrich and the rest of the very people that are adding fuel to the fire attempted to silence the report which turned out to be accurate. Do you really think an 88 year old racist cares what he's charged with? He's thrilled knowing that he killed a Black man at the Holocaust Museum. He has fulfilled a life long dream.

    June 10, 2009 09:34 pm at 9:34 pm |
  13. Longhorn#1

    Justice should prevail here. When you find him cut his head off in the public square for all eyes to watch.

    June 10, 2009 09:38 pm at 9:38 pm |
  14. Chicago Girl

    Brian at 5:22 p.m. – Excellent point! I never got that either.

    June 10, 2009 09:39 pm at 9:39 pm |
  15. mark

    I thought America was a safe place. Freedom of speech and religion was always a nightmare.

    June 10, 2009 09:41 pm at 9:41 pm |
  16. Peter E

    There are dozens of hate-crime related murders in the country every month, why is this the only one making headlines? Americans would be a lot less complacent if the media actually did its job right instead of waiting around for yet another murder to happen!

    June 10, 2009 09:43 pm at 9:43 pm |
  17. Tatianna

    Napolitano report entitled Rightwing Extremism targets law-abiding US citizens, who choose not to support the socialist/communist agendg of Obama. The target list is a lengthly one, encompassing all single-issue advocates. Including those who are pro-life, those who are gun owners, those who oppose illegal immigration and same sex marriage, those who criticize free trade agreements, and, believe it or not, those military returning from Iraq ammd Afghanistan come those vets still around. A citizen-taxpayer who falls into several of these catergories are targeted. In April 2009, Axelrod said the Tea Party movement is an UNHEALTHY mutation from public dissatisfaction with Obama policies. Since when is free speech by grass-roots citizens movement unhealthy? Lest Obamas DHS,DOJ,FBI forget, the US Constitution protects the right to bear arms, the right to peaceful assembly and free speech. OBAMA AND HIS FOLLOWERS IN COMPLETE DISREGARD FOR THE CONSTITUTION RIGHTS OF THE CITIZENRY.

    June 10, 2009 09:49 pm at 9:49 pm |
  18. teacheng

    Let's call this what it is, domestic terrorism.

    June 10, 2009 09:50 pm at 9:50 pm |
  19. No Longer A Republican

    Rush this is blood on your hands. Hours of hate talk just ignited a racist like yourself to carry out this act. So Bill ORielly, Rush, Sean and the many of their followers I guarantee you a lot of sick souls that you have scared are going to fall right over the edge and do pockets of terrorists work. And you call yourself Americans. Folks Rush, Dick, Newt, Liddy, Bill, Sean...These are the Unpatriotic Americans, they dont want good for america unless it is by an administration ran by a white person. And it better be a man, because women are right behind their racist line of work. Pathetic Loosers. They are robbing america blind just to talk and entertain, sell books and get speaking engagements to make money...

    June 10, 2009 09:50 pm at 9:50 pm |
  20. Terry from Texas

    The government need not spend much energy figuring out two dozen crimes to charge this 88 year old man with. If he doesn't die in the next few days, he will die in jail in a few years. Convict him of murder, sentence him to ten years, and forget him. There is also no need for Congress to pass more laws. There is already a law against murder.

    Preventing this kind of thing from happening again is what our leaders need to focus on.

    June 10, 2009 09:51 pm at 9:51 pm |
  21. Victory Gin

    What a sniveling old, cowardly b@st@rd. Stop treating him. Stop feeding him. Lock him in a room and let him rot....literally.

    Here's hoping this waste of breath and skin never passed on DNA from his tainted gene pool.

    June 10, 2009 09:53 pm at 9:53 pm |
  22. gl, Pittsburgh

    I blame this on FOX and all the crazy white racist Republicans.

    June 10, 2009 09:53 pm at 9:53 pm |
  23. Alicia

    I live in Pittsburgh, Poplawski listened to Rush, Coulter and the such of O'Reilly. O'Reilly who gave Tiller's name and address constantly on national television. When is someone going to debate this unacceptable and irresponsible behavior?

    I feel so bad for this brave man's family. We are the United States of America. What does the world think of such a draconian society that wants to be seen as a leader with such racism being accepted. Even on our Main Stream Media? Kind of like ABC firing Bill Maher was Main Stream Media.

    June 10, 2009 09:56 pm at 9:56 pm |
  24. No Longer A Republican

    Who the Hell is trying to save the sob life...oops someone need to pull the plug on the 88y /o racist bastard why are tax payers money wasting to save his life...let him die. die, die...I need him to go to hell before he gets common sense and repent.

    June 10, 2009 10:00 pm at 10:00 pm |
  25. Tatianna

    Can any dem/lib tell us how Janet Napolitano got her job as Sec. of DHS? Janet is a ideologue, the perfect Obama admin. She has no real security bona fides to qualify as DHS Sec. other than being a two-term governor from a border state and having a political ideology harmony with Obama.

    June 10, 2009 10:00 pm at 10:00 pm |
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