The man who fired guns in the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday was an 88-year-old white supremacist, said law enforcement officials.
U.S. media including Fox news and CNN quoted law enforcement officials as saying that the gunman had been identified as James von Brunn, a Maryland resident who has links with hate groups and anti-government organizations for a long time.
He has served a prison sentence for taking a gun into the Federal Reserve, reports said.
However, Cathy Lanier, the capital police chief, could not immediately confirm the gunman's identity, only saying "it appears to be a lone gunman who entered into the museum and opened fire with what appears to be a rifle at this point."
Washington Mayor Adrian Fenty said that both the gunman and a security guard he shot were in critical condition in hospital.
Washington, DC, police officers block the street leading to the main entrance of the Holocaust Museum (C), in Washington, DC, after a shooting. A lone gunman said to have links to white supremacist groups opened fire Wednesday inside the Holocaust Memorial Museum here, fatally wounding a security guard before being shot himself. (Xinhua/AFP Photo)
"No name will be released as of right now and we will bring more information to you as more information comes to us," he added.
According to the capital police department, the shooting was reported to police at 12:52 p.m. local time (1652 GMT) after the gunman walked in the museum and shot a security guard. Another guard returned fire and shot the suspect.
A third person was also injured from broken glasses at the museum.
White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said that he had informed President Barack Obama of the shooting, and that White House officials are receiving regular updates from the FBI, the Homeland Security Council and the White House Situation Room.
Police and SWAT officers patrol one of the entrances of the Holocaust Museum in Washington, DC, after a shooting. A lone gunman said to have links to white supremacist groups opened fire Wednesday inside the Holocaust Memorial Museum here, fatally wounding a security guard before being shot himself.(Xinhua/AFP Photo)
Roads surrounding the museum have been closed off as emergency vehicles and police cars converged on the scene.
The museum is a popular tourist site in Washington, with 1.7 million visitors each year.
It has a heavy security presence and imposes security check methods.
Dave Pearson, a teacher in Washington, said he was on the museum's fourth floor when he heard a loud noise.
"At the time, we're visiting and all of a sudden there's like a boom, and all of a sudden they told us to stop where we're at. The only thing we heard was a boom, and that was it." Source: Xinhua