Nat. Holocaust Museum fatal shooting

Victim - Stephen T. Johns (Source - NBC News)
Victim - Stephen T. Johns (Source - NBC News)
Suspect - James Von Brunn (Source - NBC News)
Suspect - James Von Brunn (Source - NBC News)

WASHINGTON (AP) - A security guard at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum is dead after a shooting at the museum entrance. And the shooter -- possibly an elderly white supremacist -- is hospitalized in critical condition.

The gunman opened fire with a rifle inside the museum, which was filled with visitors at the time. Police say he began firing as soon as he stepped into the building, fatally wounding a security guard, and that other guards immediately returned fire.

Museum officials identify the guard who was killed as Stephen T. Johns.

"I was just going through security and I heard a pop and it was very distinct that i recognized as a gunshot. the security guard said run upstairs so we ran upstairs and I think my daughter Brittany after that heard another couple shots," said eyewitness Julie Thompson.

A law enforcement official says James Von Brunn is under investigation in the shooting. He's an 89-year-old who maintains a racist, anti-Semitic Web site. In 1983, he was convicted of trying to kidnap members of the Federal Reserve Board. He'd been arrested outside the room where the board was meeting, carrying a revolver, a knife and a sawed-off shotgun.

An official says Von Brunn's car was found near the museum and tested for explosives.

The museum has been the target of at least one domestic terrorism threat in the past.

In 2002, prosecutors said two members of white supremacist groups had plotted to build a fertilizer bomb to blow up the museum.

(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. NBC contributed to this report. All Rights Reserved.)