Thirty nine year old Stephen T. Johns, as special police officer at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum, lost his life while trying to be polite to an elderly man. As Stephen opened the door for eighty eight year old James W. von Brunn, von Brunn pulled out his rifle and shot Stephen in the chest. Two of Stephen’s fellow officers immediately returned fire shooting von Brunn in the face. Mr. Johns was taken to George Washington University Hospital where he later passed away. Von Brunn, an outspoken white supremacist who had served six years in prison for a 1981 kidnapping attempt remains in critical condition George Washington University Hospital.
Stephen Johns graduated from Crossland High School in Temple Hills, Maryland in 1988. He has a son, Stephen Jr. from a previous marriage and recently celebrated his wedding anniversary.
A Gentle Soul Wrapped in a Big Personality
Slain Security Guard Remembered as Kind, Caring, Outgoing and Imposing
By Michael Birnbaum and Hamil R. Harris
Washington Post Staff Writers
Friday, June 12, 2009
Stephen Tyrone Johns opened the door for the man who authorities say killed him.
On Wednesday afternoon, Johns was at his post in the lobby of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum when he saw an elderly man walking toward the glass entrance and cracked open the door. If he saw a .22-caliber rifle at the old man’s side, he saw it too late.
Johns, 39, was pronounced dead hours after James W. von Brunn, 88, an avowed white supremacist, allegedly shot him in the chest. Von Brunn, shot by other security guards, lay in the same hospital in critical condition.
Opening the museum door was a final gesture of goodwill for a man who had long opened his own door for friends, family and anyone in need. He was a “care bear” who despite the imposing mass that made him well suited for security — 6 feet 6 inches and more than 300 pounds — “wouldn’t harm anybody,” said Brian Lennon, a longtime friend and onetime roommate.
Lennon, Johns and a third friend, Anthony Harmon, shared an Oxon Hill apartment for five years, beginning in 2002, and they had known one another since meeting at a job training program in 1990. They were like brothers, keeping tabs on one another’s families. Harmon, 36, said they fit together like “puzzle pieces.” But in the past couple of years, their lives took different directions — Lennon got married and so did Johns, for the second time — and they saw less of one another.
In the past month, however, Johns and Lennon had gone fishing together several times, and it was the beginning of a new friendship, Lennon said, as married men, rather than as the “girl-crazy” guys they once were.
Just last week, Harmon said, he joined his old buddies for night fishing, the first time the old roommates had been all together in a long time. Johns didn’t catch a thing, but Harmon and Lennon gave him their fish so that he would have something to give his wife, who was waiting up for him when they returned in the wee hours.
“He was talking, and we was chilling together,” Harmon said. “It was just so exciting that we were around each other.” They made plans to do it again on Father’s Day.
Stephen’s mom, Jacqueline Carter was interviewed and you can see the video below.
Check out the entire Washington Post article about Stephen here.
You can also read more information:
And check out the statement from Erik von Brunn, the son of James von Brunn.
My prayers go out to the Johns family. RIP Stephen T. Johns.