A gunman armed with a rifle has shot and killed a guard inside Washington DC’s Holocaust museum before being wounded in turn, city police say. The guard died of his injuries and the gunman is in critical condition, officials said after the incident which sowed panic among visitors. Reports say the gunman is an American aged 88 with white supremacist links. Thirty million people have visited the museum, located on the National Mall, since it opened in 1993.

I see all these security guards kind of like ducking Angela Andelson eyewitness Roads surrounding the museum have been closed. A third person was hurt by broken glass, a fire official said.Israel’s embassy in Washington condemned the attack on the museum, saying it was “shocked and saddened”.US President Barack Obama was “saddened” by the incident, the White House said, adding that it “reminds us that we must remain vigilant against anti-Semitism and prejudice in all its forms”.

Suspect named

The dead security guard was named as Stephen Tyrone Johns, who had worked at the museum for six years and “died in the line of duty”, the museum said.Joseph Persichini, assistant director in charge of the Washington FBI field office, said the shootings were being investigated as a possible hate crime or a case of domestic terrorism.

Law enforcement officias have identified the suspect as James von Brunn. Federal agents have been dispatched to his home in Annapolis, Maryland, to check his computer. Metropolitan 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.

Earlier, Police Sergeant David Schlosser said the gunman had walked into the building carrying “a long gun”. “[He] fired at one of the security officers…” he told reporters. “My understanding is that two other security officers at the museum returned gunfire at the man that had entered the museum.” A law enforcement official quoted by AP said Mr Von Brunn’s vehicle had been found near the museum and was being tested for explosives.

AP’s sources said the weapon used by the suspect was a .22-calibre rifle. Mr Von Brunn has long been tied to extremist groups and served a prison sentence for taking a sawn-off shotgun, revolver and knife into Washington’s Federal Reserve in 1981, when the board was meeting. He has a racist, anti-Semitic website and has written a book about the “destruction of the White Race”.

‘Screaming and ducking’

The museum was crowded with schoolchildren and other tourists at the time of the attack but all escaped injury.The Hall of Witness at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum (image: Alan Gilbert, courtesy of USHMM Photo Archives)One eyewitness, Angela Andelson, 22, told AFP news agency: “I heard a shot and though it was sort of a loud, like someone had dropped something. “And I see all these security guards kind of like ducking. I kind of glanced again and saw a gunman coming in… a long-looking kind of gun. I just ran in to one of the exhibits to try to take cover.

“I heard the first one. When I turned and looked there were maybe two to four more shots that I heard. People were screaming and ducking down getting on the floor, getting under benches.” 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. The museum has been threatened by anti-Semitic extremists before but staff say it will reopen as normal on Thursday