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Slain security guard remembered as a 'teddy bear'

TEMPLE HILLS, Md. - As an elderly white supremacistapproached the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, security guardStephen T. Johns unknowingly held open the door -- a final act thatfriends and family said Thursday was typical of his kindness forothers.

Authorities say before the 88-year-old man even got into thebuilding Wednesday, he pointed his gun at Johns' heart and pulledthe trigger.

Well-wishers came to Johns' boyhood home Thursday on a quiet,tree-lined street in Temple Hills to remember the man who spent thepast six years working at the Washington museum until he was gunneddown.

"If Steve saw an old lady struggling with groceries, he'd gohelp her," said Kevin Martin, who first met Johns at CrosslandHigh School in Maryland.

"He was just a genuinely good guy," said another friend,Carlton Spriggs, who met Johns when they were in their early 20sand training to become plumbers. "I can't think of anything bad tosay about him."

Johns, 39, was a fan of the Washington Redskins, they recalled,and once enjoyed listening to the hip-hop group NWA.

James von Brunn, who has a violent and anti-Semitic past, wascharged with first-degree murder in Johns' death.

Meanwhile, the museum remained closed and flags flew athalf-staff in honor of the guard credited with helping save severallives in the crowded museum. Bouquets of roses, lilies and otherflowers were left outside the museum walls.

Johns' mother, Jacqueline Carter, who lives at the Temple Hillshome, described her 6-foot-6 son as a "my teddy bear." She saidher only child was thoughtful and remembered special dates likeanniversaries and birthdays.

"He was kind, he was gentle, he was loving," she said. "Heloved people and he loved his job."

Carter said Johns had an 11-year-old son, Stephen Johns, Jr.,and recently celebrated his first wedding anniversary with hissecond wife. Carter says President Barack Obama called Johns' wifeThursday to express his condolences.

"I wish this could just be a dream," she said of her son'sdeath. "I wish it wasn't real."

Martin says he believes God put Johns at the museum to stop moreharm.

"He had a death wish when he went in there," Martin said ofthe gunman. "I think God put Steve in that position to stop himfrom doing what he wanted to do."


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