James Von Brunn

James Von Brunn:

The death of a white supremacist accused of opening fire at the Holocaust museum has left some conflicted — not sorry he's gone, but frustrated that he won't stand trial.

The 89-year-old James von Brunn, who faced charges that could have earned him the death penalty, died Wednesday at a North Carolina federal prison while awaiting trial.

Authorities say von Brunn walked up to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum on June 10 carrying a vintage rifle and shot Stephen T. Johns, who was black, as the guard was opening the door for him. Von Brunn was shot in the face by return fire.

One of the two guards who fired back said he had mixed feelings about von Brunn's death.

"I'm shocked. I'm glad he's gone. I wish he had his day in court but it'll never come," said Harry Weeks of White Plains, Md.

Von Brunn had a long history of poor health which included chronic congestive heart failure and sepsis, said Denise Simmons, a spokeswoman at the federal prison in Butner, N.C. He had been treated for months at the prison complex, which is known for its medical facilities to house aging and sick inmates.

Von Brunn's lawyer, A.J. Kramer, called the death "a sad end to a tragic situation," but declined further comment.

Weeks returned to work in August and said he thinks often about his Johns, 39, of Temple Hills, Md.

Johns "was a good man. There's not a day that goes by that I don't miss him... It's been very hard, there's not a day that I don't think about him when I'm on post."

The museum was crowded with school groups and other tourists during the shooting, but they all escaped injury. That evening, a play about racial tolerance was to debut.

The museum, which says it teaches people about the dangers of unchecked hatred and the need to prevent genocide, said its thoughts and prayers are still with Johns' family.

"Officer Johns died heroically defending the museum, visitors and staff," the museum said in a statement. "This tragedy is a powerful reminder that our cause of fighting hatred remains more urgent than ever."

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