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Holocaust Museum Attacker in Critical Condition

Police are describing the elderly gunman who opened fire at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum as a "hard-core" white supremacist with a long history of anti-semitic activities.

Authorities say James von Brunn, 88, walked into the museum in Washington Wednesday afternoon with a rifle and opened fire at a security checkpoint, fatally wounding guard Stephen Tyrone Johns. Other museum guards returned fire and wounded von Brunn.

The suspect remains hospitalized in critical condition Thursday.

The slain 39-year-old security guard had worked at the museum for six years. The venue is closed Thursday with flags at half-staff to honor his memory.

Investigators say they found a notebook in von Brunn's car with a list of lawmakers and Washington locations. The purpose of the list was not clear.

Von Brunn has been linked to a Web site filled with anti-Semitic and white supremacist statements. The Washington Post reports that his latest e-mailed statements had become more violent, declaring "It's time to kill all the Jews."

Von Brunn of the state of Maryland was arrested in 1981 for attempting to kidnap members of the U.S. Federal Reserve (the U.S. central bank) at gunpoint, and eventually served six years in prison. He blamed his incarceration on what he called a "Negro jury" and a Jewish judge.

Washington, D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier said there was no sign that von Brunn had accomplices in Wednesday's attack.

The museum chief of staff said about 2,000 people were inside the museum when the shooting occurred.

U.S. President Barack Obama said he was shocked and saddened by the shooting, and said it proves society "must remain vigilant against anti-Semitism and prejudice in all its forms." Mr. Obama denounced Holocaust deniers during his visit to the Nazi-era concentration camp in Buchenwald, Germany last week.

The shooting forced the cancellation of a play about racism and anti-Semitism scheduled at the museum late Wednesday. The play was written by the wife of former U.S. Defense Secretary William Cohen, Janet Langhart Cohen, about an imaginary meeting between Holocaust victim Anne Frank and an African-American boy, Emmett Till, who was lynched by white men in the 1950s.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.