Updated: Sunday, 14 Jun 2009, 10:29 PM CDT
Published : Sunday, 14 Jun 2009, 9:14 PM CDT
AUSTIN (KXAN) - Marisa Mauldin, 22, graduated from Southwestern University in May with a math degree. As a gift, her grandmother took her on a trip to Washington D.C. with three of her cousins.
Visiting the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum was not on their itenerary, but when they drove by Wednesday, they decided to stop. They had arrived with time to spare before the 1 p.m. tour. Her three cousins walked back out to the car to check the parking meter. After a visiting the bookstore, Marisa said she and her grandmother sat down on a bench to wait near the front entrance.
"We heard a gun shot," said Mauldin. When she turned to her grandmother to she if she heard it, too, she said, "We heard four or five more."
Mauldin said she could not see who was shooting, but knew the gunfire was coming from around the corner. She could hear people screaming and see them running.
"You're just struck with automatic fear," said Mauldin. "I just started shaking and I literally thought I was going to die."
Marisa said she called 911 on her cell phone. Investigators said James von Brunn, 88, walked in with a rifle and shot and killed police officer Stephen Johns, who opened for him.
Fellow security guards returned fire, injuring Von Brunn, whose car was found parked nearby.
The known white supremacist with ties to an anti-Jewish website has been charged with first-degree murder, a crime that could bring the death penalty.
"These people in the world, they're crazy," said Mauldin. "I want him to pay for what he's done."