A gunman opened fire at the Holocaust Museum in Washington, DC, fatally shooting a security guard before being shot himself. The gunman, believed to be an octogenarian white supremacist, remains in hospital being treated for his wounds.
AFP - A security guard at Washington's Holocaust Museum died Wednesday after being shot by a gunman during an attack, US media reported.
CNN and NBC both reported that the guard had died from his injuries after being rushed to hospital following the attack.
The gunman remains in critical condition in hospital after being wounded by return of fire, when two other security guards moved in to halt the attack in the packed museum, not far from the White House.
The gunman has been named by television networks as James von Brunn, 88, who has known links to white hate groups and anti-government organizations. But officials have not yet confirmed his identity.
A third person was slightly wounded, possibly by breaking glass, but did not need further treatment.
As helicopters whirred overhead and police closed off nearby roads, police Sergeant David Schlosser told reporters the gunman had walked into the building carrying "a long gun."
"The man that initially entered the museum fired at one of the security officers. So, both that security officer and the gunman have received gunshot wounds," Schlosser told reporters.
Witness Angela Andelson, 22, visiting from San Francisco, told AFP she heard possibly five shots fired. "I was by the entrance when the gunman came in. I was walking toward the exit on the other side of the entrance," she said.
"I heard a shot and thought it was sort of a loud, like someone had dropped something. So I kind of turned to look.
"And I see all these security guards kind of like ducking. I kind of glanced again and saw a gunman coming in ... a long looking kind of gun. I just ran in to one of the exhibits to try to take cover.
"I heard the first one. When I turned and looked there were maybe two to four more shots that I heard," said Andelson, adding "people were screaming and ducking down getting on the floor, getting under benches."
Another witness, Maria Hernandez, had been with her grandparents walking through the haunting exhibits which chronicle the Holocaust and the genocide of six million Jews under the Nazis.
"We were in the exhibit 'Remember the Children' and we heard rounds fired and through the glass doors I saw a security guard firing towards the shooter and a man on his belly on the floor and when I looked back again, we were heading toward the exit, I saw blood all over the floor," she told AFP.
"He was hit real bad."
The shooting comes just days after US President Barack Obama visited the Middle East and pressed Israel to halt the settlement building in the West Bank, and also paid tribute to those killed in the Holocaust with a visit to a Nazi death camp.
A spokesman for the museum told AFP the building, which is about 500 meters (yards) from the White House, had been evacuated as the first shots were heard.
More than 30 million people have visited the museum since its opening in 1993, including 85 heads of state.
Date created : 2009-06-10