The man who allegedly shot at least one person Wednesday at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington is believed have connections with white supremacist organizations and anti-government groups, according to reports.
Von Brunn worked in advertising and other professions until he retired, according to the Anti-Defamation League. He described himself as an "artist" and "writer. He has written many anti-Semitic essays, as well, and in recent years, he also created an anti-Semitic Web site, which he called "The Holy Western Empire," according to the ADL.
Williams said von Brunn has a criminal past.
Williams said that in 1981, von Brunn walked into the Federal Reserve with a handgun and sawed off shotgun. He wanted to take Federal Reserve members hostage over high interest rates. He was captured by a guard on the second floor of the building at 21st and Constitution. He was arrested and convicted and claims on his own Web site that he served time in prison.
Von Brunn was sentenced in 1983 to more than four years in prison for attempted armed kidnapping and other charges. He was released in 1989.
"The subject resides in my memory like old road-kill," he wrote. "What could have been a slam-bang victory turned into ignoble failure. Recalling all of this presents an onerous task. I am getting near the end of the diving board."
Despite the revolver, sawed-off shotgun and knife found in his bag that day, von Brunn insisted he was trying to place the board under "legal, non-violent citizens-arrest."
Navy enlistment records, provided by the National Personnel Records Center, indicate a 21-year-old von Brunn signed up for military service on April 29, 1942, as an apprentice seaman. Almost a year later, von Brunn accepted an appointment in the Naval Reserves to become a midshipman. He listed his reason for signing up as "patriotic," documents show, after spending three years in college. Navy records show he had language qualifications in English and French.
According to his own Web site:
von Brunn holds a BachSci Journalism degree from a mid-Western university where he was president of SAE and played varsity football.
During WWII he served as PT-Boat captain, Lt. USNR, receiving a Commendation and four battle stars. For twenty years he was an advertising executive and film-producer in New York City. He is a member of Mensa, the high-IQ society.
In 1981 Von Brunn attempted to place the treasonous Federal Reserve Board of Governors under legal, non-violent, citizens arrest. He was tried in a Washington, D.C. Superior Court; convicted by a Negro jury, Jew/Negro attorneys, and sentenced to prison for eleven years by a Jew judge. A Jew/Negro/White Court of Appeals denied his appeal. He served 6.5 years in federal prison. He is now an artist and author and lives on Maryland's Eastern Shore.
The Web site says von Brunn wrote a book called "Kill the Best Gentiles!" He describes the book as "a new, hard-hitting expose of the JEW CONSPIRACY to destroy the White gene-pool."
Von Brunn applied to have his art shown at the Troika Gallery in Easton, Md., around the time the gallery opened about 12 years ago, two of the owners, Laura Era and Jennifer Wharton, told The Associated Press. They said they turned him down because it was not up to their quality and that made Von Brunn angry.
"He stomped out," Wharton said. "You don't normally get that reaction from artists."
They said his work was not strange or violent, but the artists they show have many years of professional experience.
Era and Wharton said they had heard that von Brunn had been in jail because of his political beliefs and knew that he had prejudices. They did not feel comfortable around him, but said they didn't want to make him an enemy.
One time von Brunn arrived at the gallery livid because he had just seen a mixed race couple getting married at the garden of the historical society nearby, Era and Wharton said.
Von Brunn was not around for years, but turned up a year or two ago. He did not spend as much time at their gallery as before and they did not encourage him to, the women said.
They said von Brunn's work depicted images such as horses and buffalo in the American West or an eagle with the U.S. flag.
Von Brunn's biography on the artists' directory askart.com says his father, Elmer, was superintendent of Scullin steel mill of St. Louis, and their family, on both sides, migrated from Germany and Austria in 1845 or near that year. He is listed as producing portraits, illustrations, graphics and more.