Washington James von Brunn carried a lifetime of hatred and an aging rifle to the entrance of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, authorities say, and was met with a simple act of kindness: a security guard opening the door for him.
Critically injured in a hospital bed Thursday, the 88-year-old white supremacist was charged with murdering Steven T. Johns, the black guard. According to interviews with family, friends and civil rights groups, von Brunn spent decades spewing hate toward Jews and blacks — a hatred that was nearing a crescendo in the weeks before the shooting.
At least one acquaintance said he suspected that von Brunn was preparing for a violent end.
Von Brunn had talked about giving up “precious things” — even the computer from which he spread his angry diatribes against Jews, interracial dating and the government, said fellow white supremacist John de Nugent.