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

Justice officials weighing potential charges in museum shooting

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/CRIME/06/10/museum.shooting/art.security.guard.museum.jpg caption="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. Debbie

    "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."

    Hey NRA....

    This is why we need strict periodic re-registration of guns. So if some idiot who has a legally registered gun then turns into a crack addict and one night the only thing of value he has left for the next rock is his gun...then that person can be held as an accomplice to the fact if that gun later turns up as a murder weapon. Yeah its an inconvenience, we all gotta put up with an inconvenience at some time or another in our lives....but if it FORCES people to be RESPONSIBLE and held ACCOUNTABLE, it is better for the population as a whole....responsible gun owners get to keep their guns and someone gets to keep their life.

    June 10, 2009 10:00 pm at 10:00 pm |
  2. sarah

    It's a good thing that police departments all over the country are greatly involved in entrapping prostitutes and men who solicit their services, while all of these noted right wing white supremacist freaks run free. Each time I see the cops entrapping prostitutes on the street, I wonder what else could be done with those resources. Do you know how many murders remain unsolved in this country? I feel so bad for this security guard and his family. Looks like Napolitano was correct after all in suggesting that we might have a rash of domestic terrorists on our horizon.

    June 10, 2009 10:01 pm at 10:01 pm |
  3. To: Robin

    you are most certainly a right wing nut job, I've read your postings before

    but besides that you are right

    June 10, 2009 10:10 pm at 10:10 pm |
  4. John Donkey

    I've got a charge for this guy, its called "first degree murder" and i've got a penalty, a date with ole'sparky. I just hope he lives long enough for us to execute him.

    And for the left, its true that Europe has many more gun control laws than the US, but its also true that sites like "stormfront" and hate novels like the turner diaries are banned to. But as soon as you mention any restrictions on hate spewing neo-nazis, the left squeals "but what about the first amendment! If you don't let people preach about how they need to murder Jews it hurts all of us!!". NEWSFLASH!! hurting cretins ability to influence their flocks DO NOT hurt your rights to engage in civilized debate. The left says "we need common sense gun laws" well I say we need "common sense speech laws"!

    June 10, 2009 10:20 pm at 10:20 pm |
  5. Risejugger

    I hope a Hispanic doctor and a Jewish Nurse provide this moron's healthcare and his blood transfusion is from an African-American donor. Why not give him a skin pigmant change while we are at it!

    June 10, 2009 10:22 pm at 10:22 pm |
  6. John Donkey

    Kudos for those security guards, that nut would probably have turned the museum into another Virginia tech were it not for them.

    June 10, 2009 10:22 pm at 10:22 pm |
  7. virginia for obama

    I bet he was a Republican. He fits the profile.

    June 10, 2009 10:22 pm at 10:22 pm |
  8. Ken

    We were warned of this – retired right-wing military being recruited for this kind of operation. Remember the fuss and the self-righteous indignation that the warning caused? And how those in the know who espoused this idea had to apologize? This is the DOMESTIC TERRORISM, pure and simple, about which we were warned and it has come true.

    We all have rights in a democracy. Where is the stress on the RESPONSIBILITY?

    June 10, 2009 10:24 pm at 10:24 pm |
  9. JON

    I blame FOX news, Hannity, Beck and all the others for this type of action. They promote hate and fear all in the name of free speech. Take Hannity calling the President un-American and that he is killing this country and we need to fight back or Beck saying his policies are like Hitlers or Rush we all know he Hates Obama because a Black man is the president. I understand free speech but this is something else. When you have Fox News and the Shows calling the doctor that was just killed a baby killer and he has killed thousands of babies and for 5000 he will kill one for you what did they think was going to happen . I feel they killed this man and they will be responsible for more killings in the name of free speech.

    June 10, 2009 10:30 pm at 10:30 pm |
  10. Cindy Ohio Independent Mom

    And it is on! The right wing nuts are loosing control, so they are acting out. I hope they continue to do so the Republicans can continue to look like the bigots they are or what they promote. Thank you!

    June 10, 2009 10:35 pm at 10:35 pm |
  11. UNHAPPY LA. Dem

    I am a democrat and a firm believer in the second amendment. This guy was a nut case and it makes no difference what party he was affiliated with. It is people like him who give law abiding gun owners and hunters a bad image and fodder for the anti gun extremist like the bradys, fienstein, pelosi and all the mouths on this board more to scream at each about whose party is the worst. Grow up people, a man died because a crazy person snapped. you should feel sympathy for his family not hatred for each other beacause of a stupid political stance. May God be with the victims family.

    June 10, 2009 10:39 pm at 10:39 pm |
  12. Gpenn

    I guess Homeland Security wasn't wrong with thier report on the extreme right groups.

    June 10, 2009 10:52 pm at 10:52 pm |
  13. Jackson

    This is utterly insane. Honestly the only people to blame are the people who commit the crime. But and there is a but. I seriously wish President Obama placed some sort of Presidential imflammatory law on the air was and some sort of Fine for Stations who pass along hate. This is the root of all of our porblems. There are too many rasict nutjobs looking to disturb the peace and wreak havoc on our homeland with the influence of Hannity, McConell, and warmongers like Rush. They are the first to blame racisim or defend a murderer before they take the side of the AMERICAN people. I am starting to believe they should be investigated for ties with the extreamist they have 'encouraged' on our homeland. I think we'll find more than they want us to

    June 10, 2009 11:00 pm at 11:00 pm |
  14. UNHAPPY LA. Dem

    Also the crazy who killed the recruiting soldier was an islam convert, what radio station, media, group, etc. stirred him up? He also had a gun and I'll bet he did not have a carry permit for it. Criminals will have gun no matter what gun control measures are passed

    June 10, 2009 11:19 pm at 11:19 pm |
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