Holocaust Museum Shooting Suspect Had History of Hate, Signs of Breaking Point

By Darryl Fears and Marc Fisher
Washington Post Staff Writers
Thursday, June 11, 2009

James W. von Brunn was growing despondent.

John de Nugent, an acquaintance who describes himself as a white separatist, noticed the change when they last spoke two weeks ago.

"He said his Social Security had been cut and that he was barely making it," de Nugent said. "He felt it was the direct result of someone in Washington looking at his Web site."

In one of his e-mail blasts expressing his white supremacist views, the man police sources say shot and killed a security guard yesterday at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum told readers that they shouldn't expect to hear from him again. Von Brunn was shot and critically wounded by museum guards.

He was about to give away his computer, his primary connection to the fringe world of radical racists. He was living hand to mouth.

The e-mails were getting violent in tone: "It's time to kill all the Jews."

Von Brunn, who lives in Annapolis, was known for decades to fellow white supremacists who read his elaborate conspiracy theories on his Web site and met him through a network of radical racist groups. He was smart enough to join Mensa, but even admirers considered him a loner, a hothead and a man consumed with hatred.

As an avowed white supremacist and anti-Semite, von Brunn was tracked by civil rights groups.

The Southern Poverty Law Center, which monitors hate groups, has kept an eye on him since 1981. Lately, it has focused on his Web site, www.holywesternempire.org. Von Brunn, 88, worked at Noontide Press, a California-based distributor of books on the "Jewish Question."

His book, "Kill the Best Gentiles," is a screed against the Talmud and is dedicated to Revilo Oliver, a well-known denier of the Holocaust. Von Brunn's writings condemning "Negroes" and Jews were prolific.

"We had multiple entries on this guy," said Heidi Beirich, the center's director of research.

Von Brunn's neighbors said yesterday that they invited him to their home for a drink recently. Apropos of nothing, they said, he raised his belief that the Holocaust did not occur.

CONTINUED     1           >

© 2009 The Washington Post Company