San Diego police surround ‘contained’ gunman, flights affected

San Diego police SWAT team members surrounded an apartment on Wednesday where they said a man armed with a high-powered rifle was “contained” after shooting at officers responding to a domestic incident, police and local media said.

San Diego International Airport nearby put a hold on all arriving flights while the situation unfolded at a home in the Bankers Hill neighborhood, directly east of its runways.

There were no immediate reports of any injuries.

“We have him contained … The officers were able to safely retreat and set up a perimeter around the apartment,” San Diego Police Department spokesman Lieutenant Scott Wahl told reporters at the scene in footage broadcast by CNN.

Local residents were asked not to leave their homes, police said, and two schools in the area were placed on lockdown as a precautionary measure.

Police said officers were fired upon as they responded to a report of a domestic violence disturbance shortly after 9 a.m. on Wednesday morning. The gunman fired sporadically thereafter, they said.

Local media at the scene said officers were later trying to use teargas to flush out the suspect.

The San Diego Union Tribune newspaper quoted an airport official as saying that arriving flights had been affected because they have to pass over the apartment complex in question in order to land. Departing flights take off in the opposite direction, the official said, and so were unaffected.

Former Jewish camp staffer worked closely with James Holmes

In the summer of 2008, when James Holmes was 20, he was known as a quiet counselor at Camp Max Straus in Los Angeles County, liked by his campers.

As details have emerged about the background of the now 24-year-old suspected shooter at the midnight massacre at an Aurora, Colo. showing of a Batman sequel on July 20, an unwanted media spotlight has fallen on the 110 acre camp in the Verdugo Mountains run by Jewish Big Brothers and sisters of Los Angeles.

“I’m looking at us all over TMZ,” said one former staff member contacted by The Jewish Journal. “There’s my picture, it’s crazy.”

In an exclusive interview with The Jewish Journal, the staff member, who asked not to be named, confirmed what many friends, colleagues and former neighbors of Holmes have said: He was decent and unremarkable.

“He was a quiet guy,” said the former staffer, who was in close contact with Holmes. “I never would have suspected a thing. He just kept to himself.”

At Camp Max Straus, Holmes was in charge of a group of 10 boys, ages 7 to 10.

“He never got in trouble,” recalled the staffer, who added that there were never any complaints about him from his campers.  While Camp Max Straus activities do not include shooting sports, Holmes did engage in archery with his campers.

The former staffer said Holmes did not seem to hang out with other counselors his age, however.

“It’s not that they didn’t like him,” the staffer said. “It’s just that he wasn’t very social.”

Holmes, the staffer said, was not Jewish.  During the summer, Camp Max Straus serves a primarily non-Jewish population of low-income and disadvantaged youths through ” title=”Chanuka Camp” target=”_blank”>Chanuka Camp.

Since the connection to the camp was revealed on Saturday, July 21, staffers and volunteers have been fielding numerous calls about their now-infamous former counselor, and the group has been working to avoid any implication that the long-running camp is not a safe and secure place. It has had a long track record of improving children’s lives.

The former staffer stressed to The Jewish Journal that nothing in Holmes recent past, even his most recent days, tipped off authorities to imminent danger.

“We had a great summer in 2008,” the staffer told The Jewish Journal, “and we don’t want this backlash to spoil it. It’s unfortunate that they’re screaming about the camp all over the news.”

Shooter Claimed Source in the Talmud

White Supremacist and Holocaust denier James Von Brunn, who shot and killed a security guard in an attack on the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum today, titled his anti-Semitic manifesto “Tob Shebbe Goyim Harog – Kill the Best Gentiles.” He claimed the quote comes from Talmud Sanhedrin, 59B.

Von Brunn’s citation is a few pages off (the correct text is on 57A), and he pulls the idea out of context and distorts it. Rabbi Gil Student, writing in “” title=”” target=”_blank”>

The Shooter Von Brunn: Not Just a Jewish Problem

James W. von Brunn did not act alone.

That’s the key idea to remember in thinking about the attack on the U.S. Holocaust Memorial June 10 that left a security guard dead and another man wounded.

When Von Brunn, an 88 year old white supremicist, leveled a shotgun at the two closest victims, and pulled the trigger, he capped a long life devoted to senseless hatred with a senseless act of violence.

He may have been the lone gunman, but he found support for his cockamamie theories in some of the most respected and surprising places.

“The Holocaust Museum shooter is a promoter of the same Illuminati/Federal Reserve conspiracy theory,”  researcher Rachel Tabachnick e-mailed me. “ This conspiracy is NOT limited to white supremacists as it would appear watching the news.  Von Brunn is an extreme case, to be sure, but the basis of his conspiracy is being widely disseminated through many ‘mainstream’ sources.  ‘Prophecy versions of the Illuminati/New World Order/Federal Reserve conspiracy theory, sometimes with the overt white supremacy component omitted, are being disseminated by military chaplains, evangelists like John Hagee, and prophecy experts like Paul McGuire.”

A quick tour of Google (founded by two JEWS, of course) bears out Tabachnik’s research. Von Brunn was obsessed with the idea that the Jews were out to control the world via a secret society of Illuminati. But that same theory is amplified, albeit from a weird pro-Zionist perspective, in Pat Robertson’s 1991 book, “The New World Order.”

In a review of this book, Ephraim Radner writes that “Lind and Heilbrun show how Robertson took over—in some cases word for word—well-worn theories of a Jewish conspiracy.”

Robertson relied on the drivel peddled by Eustace Mullins and Nesta Webster, who appear prominently on the web page of The American National Conference for Freedom, Properity and Unity along with, yes, James Von Brunn.

But it gets worse.

As Tabachnik points out, those same conspiracy theories, beloved of some of Israel’s most ardent Christian Zionist supporters, also have cachet among some members of the US military.

A 2005 radio interview with a well respected military chaplain, Maj. James Linzey,  demonstrates the extreme nature of this paranoid conspiracy.  Tabachnik forwarded me a transcript of the interview.

“This guy has been broadcast on both television and radio and he is also very well connected in the Pentecostal/charismatic community,” she wrote. “ His uncle was a big name evangelist in the Latter Rain healing movement in the 1940s and 50s.  Linzey published a book endorsed by college and seminary theologians.  His mother, Verna Linzey’s bio states that she is also an evangelist, military chaplain, and an author of a book endorsed by people like Vinson Synan, major Pentecostal leader and professor at Pat Robertson’s Regent University.  Linzey’s father is a retired Navy chaplain.  All of that to say that Linzey is not a fringe white supremacist, and he is peddling the exact same conspiracy theory but to a much wider audience than white supremacist groups can possibly access.”

“The press is talking only about the white supremacist nature of this without exploring the well known and wide spread conspiracy theory that is behind this man’s writings and is rapidly spreading throughout society.”

That means Von Brunn is part of an internet fanned group of deranged conspiracy theorists who hate Jews, gays, non-whites, the U.N.—likely in that order. 

All of which makes me think of Scott Roeder.

He is the man who shot Dr. George Tiller, the Kansas abortion doctor, and who many were quick to denounce as a single deranged hater.

But he too, like Von Brunn, lived in world of extremist hate that stopped just short of violence. The rhetoric he was bathed in left very little to the imagination—especially the twisted imagination—of someone who wants to glory in taking his thoughts, and the hate speech of others, to the logical conclusion. 

Von Brunn could have spray-painted a swastika, yelled an obscenity as he drove by (which the Jews over at the ACLU would defend his right to do), continued to post his dull drivel on his web site, or even thrown a Molotov cocktail, but if you really pay heed to these paranoid theorists out there, the only solution to the problem of Jews is murder.

Should Jews run for cover?  Of course not.  The worst reaction to this crime is over-reaction.  It is safer to be a Jew in America than to be a Jew anywhere in the world—including Israel.  Yes, there are conspiracy theorists out there that we need to expose, no matter what their title or their political clout.  Unfortunately, they have found one another through the magic of the Internet (developed by a Jew at UCLA).  And their number has been joined of late by those on the far Right and Left who use Israel as an excuse to pick up where David Duke left off (and no, not all criticism of Israel is anti-semitic, but, like porn, you know it when you see it).

But overall this attack will and should change nothing about how Jews pray, work and gather in America.  We have not survived 6,000 years to cower when an octgenarian nutter finally gets to act on Millenialist fantasies.

All we can do—must do—is reach out to help the family of Stephen Tyrone John,, 39, the security guard who was killed, make sure justice comes down like an anvil on von Brunn (and pray for the sake of delicious irony that his defense attorney is excellent, and a Jew) and call out whoever peddles these lunatic theories, whether they are lone gunmen, military chaplains or right reverends.

{encode=”” title=”Rob Eshman”} is Editor-in-Chief of The Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles and

To help the family of Stephen Tyrone Johns, click here.