A security officer died in an area hospital,according to a press release from the D.C. Police Department. The statement identified the officer as Stephen Tyrone Johns,39,of Temple Hills,Md. He had served on the museum's security staff for six years,according to a statement from museum officials.
The suspect was admitted into the hospital in critical condition,according to the police department's statement. The department refused to confirm the identity of the suspect,although he was widely identified by news organizations as a white supremacist who had served prison time.
Security guards were able to see the suspect's long rifle as he entered the museum's doors at about 12:50 p.m.,according to D.C. Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier. Security guards apprehended the man immediately,but he raised his rifle and started shooting. The security guards returned fire.
“They did exactly what they were supposed to do,” said Bill Parsons,Holocaust Museum chief of staff.
In a statement on its Web site,the museum said it will close Thursday and lower its flags to half staff in honor of Johns's memory. “There are no words to express our grief and shock,” the museum's statement said.
Lanier said bomb-sniffing dogs checked all areas around the museum,and streets had been reopened in the museum area. The museum is at 14th Street and Independence Avenue SW,two of the city's busiest commuter streets,just off the National Mall.
Lanier said the police department received no threats or prior information about the attack,while Fenty said the incident was isolated and not connected to any broader terrorism plot.
The museum,a public-private partnership,opened in 1993 and had 15 million visitors in 2006.
Eric Bissonette,50,of Washington,hurried over to the museum site with a colleague when he heard about the shooting. The colleague's husband normally drives past the museum to pick up their children from school,and she wanted to make sure everything was OK.
“It's just sad,” Bissonette said. “This is supposed to be a safe place.”
Jaye and Aimee Townsend,30 and 28,of Baton Rouge,La.,were on their way to visit the Holocaust Museum when a friend from back home sent a text message with the news. He said he was speechless but was later reassured by the calm and professional press conference and behavior of police officials.
“I definitely have a greater appreciation for what they go through,” he said.
Jeffrey Murtha,18,of Catonsville, Md.,and Emilie Cecil,17,of Frederick,Md.,had checked out two Smithsonian Institution museums when Murtha received a CNN news text alert about the shooting and decided to walk over to the site. Like many others,the first thought to cross Murtha's mind was his own bad luck.
“Great,the one day I go to D.C.,there is a shooting,” he said.