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Other News: Guard Killed at U.S. Holocaust Museum

June 10, 2009 at 6:10 PM EDT
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In other news, an attacker shot and killed a security guard inside the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., and at least 28 people were killed in a car bombing in Iraq.

JIM LEHRER: In other news today, gunfire broke out at the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington with hundreds of visitors inside. Police said an elderly man shot and killed a security guard.

NewsHour correspondent Kwame Holman reports.

KWAME HOLMAN: Police said it happened just before 1 p.m., when the gunman walked into the museum and opened fire with a rifle. He shot one guard before being shot in turn by two other guards.

Officials quickly evacuated the museum and cordoned off the surrounding area. Those inside told of hearing shots and then being ordered to get down.

DAVID UNROE: First shot, I — you know, you don’t expect that. You’re in a secure place, place of reverence and respect, you don’t expect gunshots. So — but then as they repeated, it’s like, “That’s gunfire.” And then they said, “Hit the floor,” and we did.

KWAME HOLMAN: The wounded guard died later at a Washington hospital. The suspect was listed in critical condition.

The Holocaust Museum is one of the most popular sites in Washington, with more than 1.5 million visitors a year. Security is tight. Museum-goers must pass through metal detectors and have their bags searched. Police say today’s shooting took place outside a security checkpoint.

It was widely reported the gunman was James von Brunn, a white supremacist who is 88 years old. He runs a racist, anti-Semitic Web site and was convicted in 1983 of trying to kidnap members of the Federal Reserve Board.

But Washington, D.C., Police Chief Cathy Lanier said there’s no sign today’s incident was part of any larger plot.

CHIEF CATHY LANIER, Washington, D.C., Police Department: We had no prior information. There was no prior threats of this nature about this incident. So it appears to be a lone gunman who entered the museum and opened fire with what appears to be a rifle.

KWAME HOLMAN: At the White House a few blocks away, a spokesman said President Obama was “obviously saddened” at the news. Just last week, he visited the site of a Nazi concentration camp in Germany.

JIM LEHRER: In Iraq, at least 28 people were killed in a car bombing at a crowded market. The bomb went off near food stalls in a Shiite Muslim town about 200 miles south of Baghdad. Scores of people were wounded. The country’s Shiite vice president charged al-Qaida and other Sunni militants are trying to re-kindle sectarian war.

The pacific island nation of Palau has agreed to take 17 Chinese Muslims held at Guantanamo Bay. The president of the former U.S. trust territory said today the decision was a small way of thanking the United States. The State Department spokesman said the transfer was not yet a done deal.

The detainees are ethnic Uighurs captured in Afghanistan and Pakistan in 2001. U.S. officials have voiced concerns they’d be tortured or executed if they’re returned to China.

The U.S. recession showed signs of moderating in some places in the latest check by the Federal Reserve. It found the downward trend slowed in five regions during the spring, but conditions remained weak elsewhere, especially in real estate and labor.

And on Wall Street today, the Dow Jones industrial average lost 24 points to close at 8,739. The Nasdaq fell 7 points to close at 1,853.