Alleged Museum Shooter's Son Slams Dad's 'Cowardice'

Son: "Father's beliefs ... a constant source of verbal and mental abuse."

ByABC News
June 10, 2009, 2:05 PM

June 12, 2009— -- A son of the 88-year-old white supremacist who allegedly started a shootout at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum is slamming his father's "cowardice" and apologizing to the family of the security guard his dad is accused of killing.

"My father's actions are unforgivable," Erik von Brunn, 32, of Florida, wrote in a statement to ABC News. "I do not expect, nor will I accept forgiveness for what he has done. I realize there is nothing positive to be taken from this incident."

Click here to read Erik von Brunn's full statement to ABC News.

Erik von Brunn's father, James von Brunn, has been charged with first-degree murder in the death of Stephen Tyrone Johns, the museum guard who opened the door for elderly man to let him into the museum.

In apologizing to Johns' family, Erik von Brunn said his father's hatred has tormented his own family for years, as well.

"My father's beliefs have been a constant source of verbal and mental abuse my family has had to suffer with for many years," he wrote. "His views consumed him, and in doing so, not only destroyed his life, but destroyed our family and ruined our lives as well.

"For a long time, I believed this was our family's cross to bear," he added. "Now, it is not only my families lives that are in shambles, but those who were directly affected by his actions; especially the family of Mr. Johns, who bravely sacrificed his life to stop my father.

"I cannot express enough how deeply sorry I am it was Mr. Johns, and not my father who lost their life [Wednesday]," Erik von Brunn said. "It was unjustified and unfair that he died, and while my condolences could never begin to offer appeasement, they, along with my remorse is all I have to give."

Von Brunn, who wrote a book alleging a Jewish plot against civilization, long has been held in some esteem by members of hate groups. He allegedly left behind hate-filled handwritten notes in his car, according to the criminal complaint against him filed in federal court in Washington Thursday.

"You want my weapons -- this is how you'll get them," a note read. "The Holocaust is a lie. Obama was created by Jews. Obama does what his Jew owners tell him to do. Jews captured America's money. Jews control the mass media. The 1st Amendment is abrogated -- henceforth."

To read the entire criminal complaint, click here.

But Erik von Brunn, whose parents divorced years ago, had some words for those who lionize his father.

"For the extremists who believe my father is a hero: it is imperative you understand what he did was an act of cowardice," Erik von Brunn wrote. "To physically force your beliefs onto others with violence is not brave, but bullying. Doing so only serves to prove how weak those beliefs are. It is simply desperation, reminiscent of a temper tantrum when a child cannot get his way. Violence is a cop out; an easy answer for an ignorant problem."

Von Brunn is facing first-degree murder and weapons charges, but investigators and prosecutors are "looking at potential civil rights or hate crimes" charges, Joe Persichini, the assistant director in charge of the FBI's Washington field office, said at a press conference near the museum Thursday.

According to the complaint, video cameras captured the entire incident, from von Brunn double-parking his 2002 red Hyundai outside the museum through the alleged attack.

"As the defendant approached the entrance to the museum, Special Police Officer ('SPO') Steven [sic] Tyrone Jones, who was employed as a security guard for the museum, opened the door for the defendant," the complaint says. "The defendant raised his rifle, aimed it at SPO Johns and fired one time, striking SPO Johns in the left, upper chest area."

Two additional guards returned fire as von Brunn continued through the door and "raised his firearm as if to fire again," the document continued. "The defendant was shot in the face and fell backwards outside the door."

Ambulances rushed von Brunn and Johns to George Washington University Hospital after the incident. Johns died at the hospital of injuries sustained in the attack, and von Brunn remains in critical condition.

Von Brunn allegedly used a .22-caliber rifle, and the complaint notes that three .22-caliber cartridge casings were recovered at the scene, indicating that the suspect fired three shots.

Already a convicted felon for a 1981 crime, von Brunn was prohibited from possessing a gun.

"Obviously, that will be something that will be followed up," D.C. Metro Police Chief Cathy Lanier said at a press conference Thursday.