Son of alleged museum killer speaks

Associated Press / June 15, 2009
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WASHINGTON - The son of James von Brunn said yesterday that his father, who is accused of killing a security guard at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum, had long burdened his family with his white supremacist views and that he wishes his father would have died in the shooting instead.

Von Brunn, 88, has been charged with first-degree murder in the death of 39-year-old Stephen T. Johns, who was black.

"I cannot express enough how deeply sorry I am it was Mr. Johns and not my father who lost [his] life," Erik von Brunn, 32, said in a statement to ABC News. "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."

Authorities say James von Brunn shot the security guard in the chest with a vintage rifle after Johns opened the door for him. Von Brunn was shot in the face by guards and is expected to survive. A hearing is set for today in a D.C. federal court for a magistrate judge to hear about von Brunn's health.

"His views consumed him, and in doing so, not only destroyed his life, but destroyed our family and ruined our lives as well," Erik von Brunn said in his statement.

He told The Washington Post in a telephone interview from his mother's home in Homosassa, Fla., that he had a decent relationship with his father. The elder von Brunn never insisted that his son share his views, although he was disappointed when he did not.

Erik von Brunn, an aspiring teacher and fiction writer, declined to say whether he was estranged from his father. "The man is 88 years old. I never would have thought he could do this," he said.