WASHINGTON — The son of James W. von Brunn says he wishes that it had been his father, not U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum guard Stephen Johns, who died in Wednesday's shooting.
"I cannot express enough how deeply sorry I am it was Mr. Johns, and not my father who lost their life," Erik von Brunn, 32, says in a written statement to ABC News. "It was unjustified and unfair that he died, and while my condolences could never begin to offer appeasement, they, along with my remorse, are all I have to give."
James von Brunn, a white supremacist, has been charged with killing Johns and remains hospitalized with gunshot wounds to the face from two other museum guards who returned fire after Johns fell.
In his statement to ABC and a phone interview with the Washington Post on Saturday, Erik von Brunn said his father's bigotry was a shadow over his life. He said he was too young to know his father when James von Brunn went to prison for 6 1/2 years for attempting to kidnap members of the Federal Reserve Board in 1981, and was nearly 11 when his father was released.
"Even from that moment, he still had those beliefs," said Erik von Brunn, 32, reached by phone at his mother's home in Homosassa. The son said his father was disappointed when he did not share his views.
A recent graduate of the University of Maryland, Erik von Brunn said he never imagined his father's rage would consume him to the point that he might take another life.
In the statement, Erik von Brunn directly addresses white supremacists. "For the extremists who believe my father is a hero: it is imperative you understand what he did was an act of cowardice," he writes. "His actions have undermined your 'movement,' and strengthened the resistance against your cause. He should not be remembered as a brave man or a hero, but a coward unable to come to grips with the fact he threw his and his families lives away for an ideology that fostered sadness and anguish."