Accused Holocaust museum shooter appears in court

Liz De La Torre

From The Associated Press

WASHINGTON – A white supremacist charged with killing a security guard at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum appeared in court Wednesday, the first time he has been seen publicly since the June shooting.

Police say the suspected shooter, James von Brunn, 89, was shot in the face after killing the guard. He survived and has been hospitalized since the June 10 shooting. He was finally well enough to be in U.S. District Court in Washington on Wednesday, though he was in a wheelchair.

Von Brunn was indicted in July on charges including first-degree murder for the death of museum guard Stephen T. Johns, who was black. Four of the charges make him eligible for the death penalty if he’s convicted.

Court appearances for von Brunn have been delayed several times as he recovered from his injuries.

Von Brunn once tried to kidnap members of the Federal Reserve board, a “caper” thwarted when a guard captured him outside a board meeting carrying a bag stuffed with weapons. He describes his attempt with apparent pride on his hate-filled Web site.

Von Brunn was sentenced in 1983 to more than four years in prison for attempted armed kidnapping and other charges in his Fed assault. He was released in 1989.

Public records show that in 2004 and 2005 he lived briefly in Hayden Lake, Idaho, which for years was home to the Aryan Nations, a racist group run by neo-Nazi Richard Butler.

Von Brunn had a racist, anti-Semitic Web site and wrote a book titled “Kill the Best Gentiles,” alleging a Jewish conspiracy “to destroy the white gene pool.” He also claimed the Holocaust was a hoax.