Remember That He Shot the Brother Security Guard First and Last (with Updates)

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(Young Stephen Jr. is in this video, talking briefly about his father.)

Stephen Tyrone Johns, Holocaust Museum security guard, who died from his wounds this afternoon at George Washington University Hospital, where his assailant also lies critically injured from a head wound (Courtesy: WaPo)

Stephen Tyrone Johns, Holocaust Museum security guard, who died from his wounds this afternoon at George Washington University Hospital, where his assailant also lies critically injured from a head wound (Courtesy: WaPo)

As of this writing, James Wanneker von Brunn, the Holocaust Museum shooter, is still listed in critical condition, but he is alive. His first and only victim, 39-year-old security guard Stephen Tyrone Johns is dead. Johns did not have enough time to draw his .38-caliber weapon before he was shot in the upper torso by von Brunn. But two of Johns’ co-workers brought the 88-year-old anti-Semite and white supremacist down before he turned the museum devoted to commemorating the Holocaust murdered into a new place of massacre.

According to the Washington Post, Johns was called “a soft-spoken gentle giant,” “like family,” and “very courteous, very helpful,” by his friends and co-workers. He was even lauded by Janet Langhart Cohen, journalist and playwright whose husband William was formerly Secretary of Defense under Clinton. She remembered that it was Johns who had come out in the rain with an umbrella to bring her inside the museum, in a personal and courteous touch. However, there are very few details about Johns himself.

Johns, who was either 6’5″ or 6’6″ and weighed some 300 pounds, was called “Big John.” He seems to have been a regular guy. He was raised by his mother and a stepfather. He finished high school in nearby Temple Hills, Maryland, and may have trained to be a plumber. At any rate, he came to work as a guard, assigned to the D.C. jails and in post-Katrina New Orleans, and finally settled in at a job he liked for Wackenhut Corporation, the sometimes controversial security firm. Johns was posted for six years at the Holocaust Museum, making about $20 an hour. He had remarried a year ago, and had a young son, Stephen Jr., 11. He and his family lived not far from his parents. A sister was said to be overcome with grief, and had to be driven home from work.

“It’s a heavy loss,” said Assane Faye, the Washington district director of the Security, Police and Fire Professionals of America.

Like other guards at the museum, on Raoul Wallenberg Place SW near the Mall, Johns underwent training for which he received the D.C. police designation of “special police officer,” which permitted him to carry a revolver on duty.

Faye said that during contract negotiations with Wackenhut two years ago, the union pressed for company-issued protective vests. Although Wackenhut seemed open to the idea, vests have not been issued, Faye said.

“I hammered this in our negotiations two years ago because of how sensitive that museum is,” he said. “Our guards needed more protection.” He said that one of the guards at the museum was “verbally assaulted by one guy walking by, saying anti-Semitic remarks. For that reason, I made that the center of the negotiation.”

Authorities said Johns was not wearing a protective vest.

A vest might have saved Johns’ life.

Officials say that they will close the museum tomorrow in Stephen Johns’ memory, however, I would certainly like to see museum officials and Wackenhut representatives at Johns’ funeral as a show of respect, and also for they and Wackenhut to make some remuneration to Johns’ widow and son. Because the circumstances demand it. President Obama goes to Buchenwald concentration camp with Elie Wiesel, and this is the reaction. George Tiller tries to help women, and he’s shot for his efforts. This time is no accident. Commendations are one thing, but this is blood respect and blood money so that Stephen Johns’ life was not wasted in vain.

UPDATE 1: A Facebook commemoration wall has been established in memory of Stephen Tyrone Johns. Click here.

UPDATE 2: The National Association of Security Companies (NASCO) mourns Stephen Tyrone Johns as a hero:

NASCO is reaching out to Officer Johns’ family through contacts at The Wackenhut Corporation to inquire about assistance with the family’s expenses and ongoing needs.

“Officer Stephen Johns is a hero, plain and simple,” said NASCO Executive Director Jeff Flint.

“His actions and the actions of his security colleagues at the Holocaust Museum demonstrate the critical role that private security officers play everyday, often without thanks, to protect people’s lives and property. Too many people take the work of private security officers for granted, until a tragedy like yesterday occurs.”

UPDATE 3: WTOP-FM in D.C. reports scores of bouquets are being brought to or are decorating the entrance to the Holocaust Museum in memory of Johns:

U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum volunteer Barbara Rein knelt in front of the museum and placed a bouquet of flowers. Rein told WTOP she was there to bring “flowers for our Officer Stephen because he and the guards saved our lives.”

~ by blksista on June 10, 2009.

3 Responses to “Remember That He Shot the Brother Security Guard First and Last (with Updates)”

  1. Where can I send a dontation to the family of Stephen Johns?


  2. As a provider of contract security guards in Atlanta,, I feel so sorry for the victim of this crime. Security guards are often ridiculed, but they provide the first line of defense. This man died while in duty. Condolences to his family and all security guards killed in the line of duty.


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