Museum Shooter's Son Condemns Father's Violence

By Bill Turque
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, June 13, 2009; 1:08 PM

The son of James von Brunn calls his father's actions at the Holocaust Memorial Museum "unforgiveable" and the hatred that consumed him a plague that ruined his family's life.

In a telephone interview today with The Post and a statement yesterday to ABC News, Erik von Brunn, 32, expressed his remorse to the family of Stephen T. Johns, the security guard who died Wednesday after James von Brunn allegedly shot him in the chest. Von Brunn, a white supremacist, has been charged with Johns' murder and remains hospitalized after being struck down in a hail of gunfire from two other museum guards.

"My father's beliefs have been a constant source of verbal and mental abuse my family has had to suffer with for many years," Erik von Brunn said in the statement to ABC. "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."

Reached by phone at his mother's home in Homosassa, Fla., about an hour north of Tampa, Erik von Brunn said he didn't know his father until he was nearly 11 years old, after James von Brunn finished a six and-a-half year jail term for attempting to kidnap members of the Federal Reserve in 1981.

"Even from that moment he still had those beliefs," said Erik von Brunn, an aspiring teacher and science fiction writer who recently graduated from the University of Maryland. "It was always a part of our life."

While his father never insisted that he adopt his views about Jews and other minorities, "he was disappointed when I didn't."

Even so, he said he had a "decent relationship" with him, "in comparison with other families I know." He declined to say when he last spoke to his father or whether they were estranged

Erik von Brunn added that he was in shock, and that despite his father's bigoted views, he never thought anything like the events of Wednesday would happen.

"He's 88 years old, for heavens sake."

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