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An elderly gunman opened fire with a rifle inside the crowded U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum on Wednesday, gravely wounding a security guard before being shot. Authorities said they were investigating a white supremacist as the possible shooter.

The assailant was in critical condition, said Washington, D.C., Mayor Adrian Fenty.

D.C. Police Chief Kathy Lanier said the gunman appeared to have acted alone. He was “engaged by security guards immediately after entering the door” with a rifle, she said.

The museum normally has a heavy security presence with guards positioned both inside and outside. All visitors are required to pass through metal detectors at the entrance, and bags are screened.

But Lanier told reporters at a hastily convened news conference, “The second he stepped into the building he began firing.”

Authorities said they were investigating for any possible connection with terrorism or hate crime.

The museum, located just off the National Mall near the Washington Monument, is a popular tourist attraction. It draws about 1.7 million visitors each year.

Roads surrounding the museum were closed at least temporarily and blocked off with yellow tape. Several police cars and officers on horses surrounded the area.

One law enforcement official said James Von Brunn, a white supremacist, was under investigation in the shooting, and a second official said the elderly man’s car was found near the museum and tested for explosives. They spoke on condition of anonymity, saying they were not authorized to discuss the investigation.

From The Huffington Post

NBC News is reporting that the suspect in Wednesday’s shooting at the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C. is James W. Von Brunn, an 89-year-old man with ties to white supremacist groups.

From his bio on the website Holy Western Empire:

In 1981 Von Brunn attempted to place the treasonous Federal Reserve Board of Governors under legal, non-violent, citizens arrest. He was tried in a Washington, D.C. Superior Court; convicted by a Negro jury, Jew/Negro attorneys, and sentenced to prison for eleven years by a Jew judge. A Jew/Negro/White Court of Appeals denied his appeal. He served 6.5 years in federal prison. (Read about von Brunn’s “Federal Reserve Caper” HERE.) He is now an artist and author and lives on Maryland’s Eastern Shore.

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