An elderly gunman opened fire with a rifle inside the crowded U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum on Wednesday, killing a security guard before being shot. The gunman is said to be in critical condition.
City Police Chief Cathy Lanier said the gunman appeared to have acted alone. She says he began shooting as he entered the building and was "engaged by security guards immediately after entering the door."
A law enforcement official says the suspect in the shooting is a white supremacist named James Von Brunn.
Von Brunn maintains a racist, anti-Semitic Web site. The site says he was in the U.S. Navy Reserves during World War II. He also wrote a book called Kill the Best Gentile.
An FBI official says the shooting is being investigated as a possible hate crime.
Von Brunn was convicted in 1983 of trying to kidnap members of the Federal Reserve Board. He had been arrested outside the room where the Fed Board was meeting, carrying a revolver, knife and sawed-off shotgun.
At the time, police said Von Brunn wanted to take the members hostage because of high interest rates and the nation's economic difficulties.
A museum official said a couple of thousand people were inside the facility when the shooting broke out.
The building normally has a heavy security presence, with guards positioned both inside and outside the museum. All visitors have to pass through metal detectors, and bags are screened.
The popular tourist attraction near the National Mall draws about 1.7 million visitors a year.
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