WASHINGTON, DC (WUSA) — Is the alleged Holocaust Memorial Museum killer sane enough to stand trial?
A federal judge in DC today ordered 89-year-old James Von Brunn to undergo a psychiatric exam, despite his protests.
The hearing in U.S. District Court was the first chance the public had to get a look at James Von Brunn after he alleged shot and killed a special police officer at the Museum, and was then shot by officers trying to stop him.
Prosecutors say Von Brunn was on a suicide mission with mass murder in his heart when he double-parked in front of the Holocaust Museum and shot Stephen Johns, who held the door open for him, and then fired twice into the crowded lobby.
Guards returned fire and hit Von Brunn in the face. The entire attack was caught on videotape, as hundreds of tourists fled in fear. Now, Von Brunn is finally well enough for his first court appearance.
A marshal brought him in in a wheelchair, and he seemed to have a slight smirk as he stared straight ahead. His eyes seemed to take in the proceedings as he was moved into place at the defense table.
At one point, he seemed to yawn and mutter. Then, he told the judge he had taken an oath as a U.S. naval officer to protect his country. What that means to him remains a mystery.
At his public defender’s request, the judge ordered Von Brunn remanded to the federal prisons to see if he is competent to stand trial.
The white supremacist is known for spewing racist venom on the internet and attacking the Federal Reserve in the early 1980s.
The prosecutor says Von Brunn’s attempted mass murder before, and given the chance, would do it again.
He’s 89-years-old, but the prosecutor says that makes him even more dangerous because he feels he has nothing to lose: no home, no real friends — and the attack on the Holocaust Museum has destroyed his family.
The prosecutor says Von Brunn closed out his bank accounts and wrote out funeral plans before the attack. He figured he wouldn’t make it out alive.
He faces four counts that could earn him the death penalty: murder, gun charges, and civil rights violations.