TEMPLE HILLS, Md. (WUSA) -- News that the Holocaust museum shooter had died Wednesday quickly reached the home of Jacqueline Carter.
She is the mother of Stephen Tyrone Johns, the security guard who was killed at the U.S. Holocaust Museum on June 10. Johns was allegedly shot by von Brunn after opening the front door of the museum for him.
Carter said she's been trying so hard to focus on the blessings in her life like her remaining family members, she nearly forgot who von Brunn was when she heard the news.
"The first thing I thought was I hope he took the opportunity a long time ago to ask for forgiveness," she said. "I've never really hoped for his death. I wanted him to have an opportunity to change his way of thinking. I know that seems far fetched but I really did hope that he would have a change of heart and ask for forgiveness."
Forgiveness is something Carter has nearly mastered. She says she forgave von Brunn for killing her only son.
"You just have to look at your blessings and be thankful," she said. "I have a grandson and he happens to have the same name. So I have two Stephens. I mean, I do miss my son I do. But I won't harbor any hatred in my heart because if I did, I wouldn't be any better than Mr. von Brunn. I don't want that. It hasn't been easy but it's a decision you have to make. You have to realize it doesn't profit you anything to have hatred in your heart."
Carter said she's grateful for the countless letters that strangers sent to console her. She's also amazed at how everyone who works at the Holocaust museum has reached out periodically. They've called on every holiday to see how she is doing.
"They have just been genuinely sweet," she said. "I really appreciate it. It's really helped me get through it all. And now Stephen has a youth leadership program named after him."
The museum also put up a wall memorial with Johns' picture. He's smiling really big in the photograph, just like loved ones say they remember him.
"He just saw the good in people," said Carter. "Of course he would have welcomed this man [von Brunn]...of course he would have welcomed him. Stephen would do that. That's just Stephen."
Written by Brittany Morehouse
9NEWS NOW & wusa9.com