June 12, 2009 -- Following is a statement by Erik von Brunn, a son of James von Brunn, the 88-year-old man accused of a shooting attack at the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C.:
My father's beliefs have been a constant source of verbal and mental abuse my family has had to suffer with for many years. 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. 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 yesterday [Wednesday]. 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.
While my father had every right to believe what he did, by imposing those beliefs on others he robbed them of their free will. His actions have taken opportunities away from many people and forced decisions not expected, nor warranted, to be made that otherwise would not have been necessary.
For the extremists who believe my father is a hero: it is imperative you understand what he did was an act of cowardice. 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.
His actions have undermined your "movement," and strengthened the resistance against your cause. He should not be remembered as a brave man or a hero, but a coward unable to come to grips with the fact he threw his and his families lives away for an ideology that fostered sadness and anguish.
I apologize to friends and family who have been inundated with the media blitzkrieg you have been suffering through. While I understand it is the media's job to report as much as possible, I can only hope they have the restraint to curb the sensationalism they have thus far been reliant upon.
Again, my father's actions are unforgiveable. 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. It is empowering, however, to know our country's resistance and intolerance for such acts of hatred has been bolstered in the face of this tragedy. I humbly ask you respect our privacy and allow us to grieve and attempt to rebuild our family, along with the other families affected by what has happened.
Erik von Brunn