Obama 'Shocked and Saddened' by News of Shooting at Holocaust Museum
Updated 6:57 p.m.
By Garance Franke-Ruta
President Obama said he was "shocked and saddened" by today's shooting at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, where an elderly man described by police as a white supremacist fatally wounded a security guard before being shot by other guards.
"This outrageous act reminds us that we must remain vigilant against anti-Semitism and prejudice in all its forms," the president said in a statement released early Wednesday evening. "No American institution is more important to this effort than the Holocaust Museum, and no act of violence will diminish our determination to honor those who were lost by building a more peaceful and tolerant world."
Stephen Tyrone Johns of Temple Hills, identified by police as the injured guard, died at George Washington University Hospital. He had worked at the museum for six years, officials said.
The president offered his condolences and prayers for Johns' family. "Today, we have lost a courageous security guard who stood watch at this place of solemn remembrance. My thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends in this painful time," he said.
Earlier, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs had described at the daily briefing Obama's reaction to news of the shooting. "I walked in and told him there had been a shooting at the museum," Gibbs said. "Obviously concerned, and concern for the security guard that appears to have been hurt. I gave him mostly a factual briefing of the facts as we knew it, or knew them at that point, and that's about it. Obviously, saddened by what -- what has happened."
The White House is continuing to monitor the situation through the Situation Room updates from the Homeland Security Council, Federal Bureau of Investigation and other agencies, Gibbs said.
Asked by a reporter at the briefing if today's shooting, combined with "the shooting of Dr. Tiller, as well as the shooting of the military recruiter" left the White House "at all concerned that there is some sort of trend of political violence or domestic terrorism going on," Gibbs demurred.
"I don't think it would be wise for me to surmise something like that," he replied. "I think, as the president said in his statement after the shooting of Dr. Tiller, that regardless of disagreeing or disparate viewpoints, that, obviously, in our society, this is not in any way the type of action that anybody wants to see in settling even the most vehement disputes.
"But I -- it's hard for me to surmise without having a more in-depth conversation with law enforcement."
Posted at 3:54 PM ET on Jun 10, 2009
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