The second ex-wife of James von Brunn, the man who shot and killed a security guard at the Holocaust Museum yesterday, spoke publicly Thursday for the first time. The woman, who asked that her name not be used, went on air with Fox News' Shepard Smith.
The woman said that in their ten years of marriage, her husband had often spoken of his hatred for "Jewish people and black people." Those beliefs, she said, were the reason she ultimately divorced him.
She suggested that von Brunn's attack yesterday may have been a sort-of suicide attempt. Von Brunn was like John Wayne's character in "The Shootist," she said. In the movie, John Wayne plays a gunslinger diagnosed with cancer who, as Von Brunn's ex-wife said, "made sure he wasn't going to go out lying down with cancer. So he went out and got shot."
The full transcript of Smith's interview is reproduced below.
SMITH: You were married for how long?
EX-WIFE: Ten years.
SMITH: And you've been quoted as saying in the beginning he was very charming, and then his hate spread, as you put it, like a cancer.
EX-WIFE: Did you ever see the movie John Wayne was in, "The Shootist"?
SMITH: Actually, I don't think so.
EX-WIFE: It was with Lauren Bacall.
He was diagnosed with cancer in that movie, and uh, he made sure he wasn't going to go out lying down with cancer. so he went out and got shot.
SMITH: So it's your sense that your ex-husband, the man accused in the shooting yesterday, is one who wanted to die?
EX-WIFE: I really don't know. I was in a state of shock when I came home and saw this on the news.
SMITH: Your heart must have gone out for those involved here.
EX-WIFE: Actually, that was what my statement was going to be.
I am very, very ... my condolences go out to the man who was killed. I can only say how sorry I am.
SMITH: Yeah well, we all feel the same way there. I wonder, when it was in the course of your relationship you realized your then-husband had these hateful thoughts?
EX-WIFE: I'd rather not comment, Shepard, on the situation any further.
SMITH: I understand, I certainly understand. But it's so important for our viewers to understand how this happened along the way and you've been quoted as saying his hate was like a cancer. And from that, it's clear to me you saw it growing. Is that true?
SMITH: What did you see? What did you hear?
EX-WIFE: He would simply constantly berate the Jewish people and black people and it was something that consumed him. It was all0consuming.
SMITH: Do you have a sense for why it was that hate for blacks and Jews consumed him. Did he ever let you in on that?
EX-WIFE: No, I only think it began in New York, when he worked there at an advertising agency.
SMITH: Did something happen to him then?
EX-WIFE: I can only assume so.
SMITH: But, is this is something he would talk about often.
EX-WIFE: No. Not often.
SMITH: But you've read his website I'm quite sure. Are those the kind of things you witnessed and heard?
EX-WIFE: Actually, I've never been on his website. Didn't realize he had one.
SMITH: How did your marriage come to an end?
EX-WIFE: I divorced him, because of his beliefs.
SMITH: Because of his beliefs. Were you ever concerned that he would do something irrational, something violent?
EX-WIFE: No. No. No In fact , as I said,I was shocked yesterday when I came home and saw it on the news.
SMITH: You said in the early going of your marriage he was quite charming as you put it. When did his true colors start showing
EX-WIFE: Oh, its been so long, it was over 30 years ago that I was married to him.
SMITH: Do you remember when he was arrested in 1981?
EX-WIFE: Yes I do.
SMITH: Did you have any discussions with him about that?
EX-WIFE: No, I did not. No.
SMITH: Did he have friends who had these same thoughts and beliefs?
EX-WIFE: Again I don't know. I'm not aware of any.
SMITH: But he talked to you about this hate and that was part of the reason you divorced him, you just said.
SMITH: Did he ever have dealings with law enforcement back in the day on these issues?
EX-WIFE: Only the '81 fiasco, I think.
SMITH: When you heard him say things about Jews and African-Americans, how did you respond to something like that?
EX-WIFE: I didn't want to hear it. I didn't want to listen to it.
SMITH: Did he ever give an explanation for why?
EX-WIFE: No. Not really.
SMITH: But he just made it clear to you that he hated blacks and Jews?
EX-WIFE: Yes. Yes.
SMITH: Was there a sense, did you get the sense that he felt he was missing out on something because of them?
EX-WIFE: No. no.
SMITH: It was just a hate that didn't have any foothold about it.
SMITH: Well I'm sorry you had to witness all of this, and I wish there was something that anyone could offer at this point.