Washington – Jewish Community Saddened By The Tragic Death Of Heroic Holocaust Museum Guard

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    Security officer Stephen Tyrone JohnsWashington – The security guard involved in today’s shooting attack at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. has died of his wounds.

    According to a source, the guard, who has been identified as 39-year-old Stephen Tyrone Johns, actually stood in the assailant’s line of fire to take at least one bullet before drawing his own firearm to fire back. He apparently did so to block visitors from the assailant’s gun.

    Officer Johns, served on the Museum’s security staff for six years.

    VIN News hails the guard as a true hero—now, sadly, posthumously so.

    To us, the attacker’s choice of venue makes his gunfire a bullet in the heart of every American Jew—and thus, the guard’s heroic move makes him a champion and defender of Jews of the highest order.

    On behalf of the entire American Jewish community, we extend our very deepest and most heartfelt condolences to his family.

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    74 COMMENTS

    1. Boruch hamakedesh shem shomayim berabim. Eil mola rachamim shochain bimromim. A fellow human being took a bullet and was killed doing his job as protecting the memory of the six million jews who were killed al kiddush hashem , another victim was claimed today by an animal who thinks he is human . eisov sonai leyaokov I guess untill moshiach we will suffer from these animals

    2. …”a bullet in the heart of every American Jew”… wrong! a bullet in the heart of each and every American!, in the heart of any decent person on the universe.

    3. It simply defies logic for Matt to write “eisov sonai leyaokov” in the same breath that he seeks to extol the virtue of an Eisav (non-Jew) – the same Eisav who put his life in the line of fire to preserve the memory of the murdered Jews. Apparently Matt, not all “eisov sonai leyaokov.” Rather it appears, many of Yakob sonei Eisav.

      • very well said and a logical reply. I was in the concentration camp and liberated in Buchenwald at block 66 the children block and non-Jewish political prisoners saved Jewish children by sharing their rations and providing other care strictly for children who were all jewish. This rot reply is a poor reflection on us

    4. may this righteous person who paid with his life to protect people he did not know rest in peace and may his family be comforted in knowing what a righteous person he was

    5. Baruch Dayan HaEmet. Eisav ahavat et Yaakov — at least enough for one brave man to give up his life to save Jews. I hope that our rabbis can find a heter for some observant Jews to attend his funeral.

      • Why would there even be a shaiylah of all the leaders of the jewish community in D.C. attending his funeral? If we cannot have the grace to honor this brave hero for what he did, we would only legitimize what this racist/murderer has written and posted on his website (i.e. that yidden have only contempt for goyimn and have no respect for them). Sometimes, we simply have to use common sense rather than turning to a posek for guidance on the obvious. If the funeral is in a church, than those who don’t want to enter should stand outside and honor the niftar.

      • There is no need for a heter; in this case, it is obvious that the leadership of the jewish community must attend his funeral to show respect and honor him. No rabbi would say anything to the contrary lest he show himself as a fool.

        • “Lest he show himself as a fool”. I am not an ordained rabbi but it is not simple al pi halachah at all to go into a church. One post had an idea to go to the funeral and stay outside.

          • For one day, get your head out of your seforim and act like a mensch and stop worrying about “al pi halacha”. This man saved the lives of yidden; it could have been your children on a school trip to the museum who would have been blown apart had he not stepped into the line of fire. If you have to worry about whether showing kovod to this hero is “al pi halacha” you really need help.

            • But of course following halachah and being a mentch are complementary to each other, not contradictory. If Jews go to his funeral but remain outside the church (as the poster you’re quoting mentioned), what objection can you have to that?

            • One does not have to compromise on Halachah to show Hakoras Hatov to this hero.
              If you wish to convey your sympathies to his family, you don’t have to enter a church to do so.

            • Exactly. A Jew is supposed to live his life “Al Pi Halachah” of the Torah. We aren’t supposed to make up our own rules of conduct.

            • Someone who doesn’t worry about doing things al pi halacha is not a mentch, he’s a sheigetz. To a Jew there is nothing more important than halacha.

        • Not true. There is no such thing as a ger toshav nowadays, but there are still chasidei umos ho’olom, who believe in the Torah and obey the 7 laws because Hashem gave them to Moshe on Sinai.

          • it is a terrible tragedy. but for god sakes why is he such a hero. this was his job like being a janitor in a yeshiva which he got paid for. would you go to a janitors levays if he cleaned your dorm room? when I was in the mir we had arabs working there. if he dropped dead or died from being shot would we go to his funeral?

            • Are you joking?! Who do you think you are?! It’s not necessarily this event that caused him to be a hero. He’s a hero because he chose a job that put his life in danger to protect others. That’s why any guard, police officer, rescue worker, etc is a hero. Get off your high horse.

            • A construction worker also puts his life in danger. The posuk says “ve’elov ho nosei es nafsho” — it is normal to risk ones life for a pay check. And that’s what all those people risk their lives for: not to protect others, but to earn a living.

            • If you don’t understand why he is a hero, I pray that hashem have rachmonis on your family for having to live with someone like you who so lacking in compassion; normal yidden would go to his funeral; you obviously would be too busy. Its so disgusting to recognize that you are the manifestation of the “ugly, selfish jews” who the murderer today ranted about.

            • Wow. It is very sad you feel this way. Did you know that hakares hatov is an ikar in avodas Hashem. EVEN TO INANIMATE OBJECTS let alone a human being. And kal vichomer- he risked his life to save others! Just his job? Do you really think most people would jump in front of a gun because that is their job??? Would you go to his levaya if you were one of the visitors who was protected from chas vishalom any harm by this man? When a person is sensitive to the good others do for them, they will then be sensitive to the good G-d does for them, and then maybe they would write G-d’s name even in english with capitalization and not spell it outwrite.

    6. Boruch Dayan Emes.
      The holocaust museum was established to show the world the hatred of the nazis, yemach shemom. Now, it is a sign of the hatred that still exists.

      • It doesn’t surprise me, as I said on a few occasions that they northeastern Jewish population fail to understand that in the republican ranks there are some anti-Semite, I know some will reply that on the left you have the same anti-Semite, my answer I know, but it seems the “Jewish Religious Conservative” don’t understand the problem and therefore take on positions which would harm Jewish interest.

        The other Anonymous

        • Von Brunn had a .22-caliber rifle. Even light body armor would have stopped the bullet from the rifle that was used. It takes alot skill to make a head shot. The person was irrational and would not have thought about body armor. It is better to with the body armor than without.

    7. If chas v’sholom something similar happened at one of our mosdos, how would people react? Which yeshiva / seminary has a guard, let alone an armed guard? How many of these have ever–even once–practiced a ‘lock down’ drill [which is practiced, along with fire drills etc, in public schools] wherein teachers etc lock their doors, cover their windows, and practice hiding with lights out with their students until the ‘all clear’ signal is given (usually by the principal walking around from classroom to classroom with a police officer and opening each door with a master key–this is because a nut with a gun might force a principal to make a false ‘all clear’ announcement over a P.A. system)? How many yeshivas or schools have practiced emergency evacuations? How many have any sort of security plan whatsoever?
      Why doesn’t anyone care about this?

      • Our mosdos and yiddeshe institutions could care less about security; they are too busy fighting with each other about nareshkeit and will invest money in building a bigger succah, fixing the catering hall for simchas etc. but won’t spend a dime on physical security; When I have raised the question, the insane response is generally some variation of “hashem will take care of us and protect us”

        • I’d just like to point out that my Yeshiva (no, I’m not mentioning names) has just installed security cameras and put real locks on doors (and actually lock them) in an effort to boost security.

    8. Boruch Dayan Emes.
      This black man is a hero and he is a friend of the Jewish people forever. I will remember his brave and courageous act of justice. May his family be comforted. May he rest in peace.

    9. A True Hero!!-I was just there and to think I passed this Gentleman-I hope I said Hello.
      This is a lesson for everyone to be nice to everyone-who knows what tomorrow brings.

    10. What a hero. My heart goes out to his family. I wish them comfort. Perhaps we can do something tangible — such as set up a trust fund to help pay for his children’s college education, if he has children, help his wife, etc. (Security guards are usually not highly paid, so if he left behind a family, they may face some difficult economic times during this very painful time.) If any one hears about any type of efforts along these lines, it would be great to post it here.

      • If anyone who was dependent on Mr. Johns — wife, children, aging parents — knows a moment of want from this day forward it’s a shandah for the whole American Jewish community. We must, in Abraham Lincoln’s words, “care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan.”

    11. It would be a great kiddush Hashem if all of us little posters and readers of the Vos iz Nais blog; Modern Orthodox, Centrist, Charedi, non – Orthodox, etc., all pitched in a little bit to help this man’s family.

      From the Vos Iz Nais family, to the Steven Tyrone Johns family, a token of our esteem for a fellow human being. The money could go to help the family, to establish some memorial for this wonderful man, and to show his community, that our community never forgets those who help it.

      T’hai nafsha tserurah b’tsror hachayim!

    12. This is the second assasination in two weeks by someone motivated to kill by extreme, radical views. First it was the abortion doctor in Kanasa; today it was supposed to have been jews in the museum in D.C. does this not suggest that those whose rhetoric inflames hatred are sowing the seeds of their own destruction. Both the doctor in Kansas and today’s hero were the victims of this growing trend to incite violence. Hashem should console their families.

      • And that kind of rhetoric influenced the four people who tried to bomb the synagogues in my neighborhood, one an orthodox synagogue where I often pray.

      • The mass-murdering doctor in Kansas got what he deserved. It is not an extreme, radical view to want to save innocent babies from being murdered. The true hero is the person who was willing to risk his own freedom and quite possibly his life to save those innocents. He is surely from chasidei umos ho’olom.

        • Milhouse

          You are noting more then a right wing lunatic, a Jewish man to usher your words is vile, I don’t care if you daven 3 times a day, or even sit in tefillin the whole day and learn and write on the internet, you are still a despicable person.

          • You are a coward who posts anonymously, so you’re in no position to criticize anybody. I doubt you daven even once a day, or ever put on tefilin (if you’re male). Hundreds or thousands of babies will live because of this hero, and you condemn him? What will you tell those babies, when they grow up? That you wanted them to be murdered?

    13. This article made me cry. Does anyone know contact information for his family? I’d love to send a letter. Such an unbelievable act of bravery for a stranger. Something to learn from.

    14. What an unbelievable act of bravery for a stranger. Something for us to learn from. Is there contact information for the family? I’d love to send a letter.

    15. From previous experience, and of course, everyone has to ask their person Rav, the halachah, that was explained to me, is that we, as Jews, are not allowed to go inside a church’s service. We are allowed to go into another part of the church if there are no statues present. If there is an unveiling, we are allowed to go to the unveiling, but we can not look at the mace (the body). We are allowed to give condolences to the family at the unveiling, which normally takes place at a funeral home, not a church. Standing outside sounds like a great idea.

      • Lets not debate the trivia of whether yiddin go into the church for the funeral or stand outside; the real point everyone agrees on is that he deserves the respect and eternal thanks of all jews.

    16. Send food to their home, make sure they want for nothing during their mourning period, visit if possible to comfort the mourners. To stand outside the church and help however we can without avodah zarah would be the right thing.

    17. Something amazing over at Dailykos:

      Someone (whom I know from other posts is a Jew who like me is a loud supporter of Israel in comments on that site) typed in the words to kaddish. At least 27 have responded by typing, “Amen”. Then someone typed in a Protestant blessing for the dead, to which many responded “amen”. Then an appropriate verse from the New Testament, to which many responded with an “amen”. Then someone typed in the beginning of the Catholic mass for the dead, to which many responded with an “amen”. And then a prayer from the Anglican Book of Common Prayer, to which many responded “amen”.

      Someone then suggested that Mr. Johns is a victim of the Holocaust. I commented that he should be honored at Yad VaShem.

    18. Radical extremism hurts everyone. This chazer went in search of yidden to kill and instead kill a brave a noble man who risked his own life to save others.

      This man’s family will never be the same, and neither should any of us be. Hate only causes destruction. This African American man got up and went to work like any other day… and he became a hero… but he also became yet another tragic victim of antisemitism. Hate destroys lives…. even the lives of those who are not the target of the hatred. I’ve seen people write frequently about wishing death on “all Arabs”, death to Bush, death to Obama, death to liberals, etc. This man’s tragic death should serve as an example of what genuine hatred can do. Have fair and honest debate and discussion… but leave out the venom. Hate only breeds more hate until it erupts somewhere and someone else ends up dead.

      If someone can get information about where to send money to support his family, please post it here.

      • Thank you PMO. Perhaps the best tribute we can make is to not remain silent in the face of the pockets of bigotry and extremism that sadly exist within our own community.

    19. This was a kind man with a kind heart. Violence is never acceptable. Left or right we need to realize violence begets violence. As a Catholic I weep with the Jewish community in this time of loss.

    20. I visited that museum last year as part of a kosher tour. The tour guide explained to us as we were walking in that most of the visitors to that museum are, by far, not Jewish. Everyone should weep at this terrible tragedy, not only Jews and not only Americans..

    21. Yiy, this makes me so sad to see posts that promote killing a single human life on this site. I am sad about the divisiveness in our country. I hope that in honor of the holocaust, we must say that no murder may be justified. These two men – Mr. Johns and Dr. Tiller, and the soldier who was murdered at the army recruitment center this week are a very sad loss to our community of B’nai Adam, and may we do everything in our power to make sure that they never happen again. Killing out of hatred is an attack on the civil liberties that have been so kind to Jews in this country and have helped us to thrive here in safety. This is something that we should protect, and we must never condone any killing by a hate group. May their memories be a blessing. May we all live lives of Tzedek and gimilut chasedim.

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