Suspect in Family Research Council shooting had volunteered at LGBT community center
by Shaun Knittel -
SGN Associate Editor
On August 15, police say, a man who had been a volunteer at an LGBT community center walked into the lobby of the Family Research Council (FRC), a political organization with views differing from the LGBT community's, pulled out a gun, and opened fire.
Police and the FBI were investigating why the armed suspect, 28-year-old Floyd Lee Corkins II of Herndon, Va., did this.
'The suspect made a negative reference about the group's work and what it stands for before shooting,' said a law enforcement official, speaking on the condition of anonymity to the Washington Post.
Corkins also allegedly had a bag full of sandwiches from Chick-Fil-A, a fast-food chain that some members of the LGBT community are boycotting due to comments by its CEO disparaging same-sex marriage.
Fortunately, no one was killed in the Wednesday morning shooting at the downtown Washington, D.C., headquarters of the FRC. The only person injured was an unarmed security guard in the lobby.
POLICE: GUARD A 'HERO'
Leo Johnson, 46, who was shot in the arm, managed to wrestle the alleged gunman to the floor. Police credited him with thwarting an attack that could have turned deadly.
'The security guard here is a hero, in my opinion,' D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier said.
Johnson was conscious and in stable condition at an area hospital after the shooting.
Corkins faces a charge of assault with intent to kill, and a count of bringing a firearm across state lines. He used a 9 mm pistol that was legally bought and owned, according to authorities.
The alleged shooter's parents told FBI agents their son has 'strong opinions with respect to those he believes do not treat homosexuals in a fair manner.'
The shooting drew swift condemnation from President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney, as well as a range of advocacy groups from the LGBT and allied communities.
Seattle Gay News also publicly condemned the act of violence.
'HATE GROUP' LABEL BLAMED
The FRC, headquartered in a busy, tourist-filled area of downtown Washington, strongly opposes same-sex marriage and abortion, and says it advocates 'faith, family, and freedom in public policy and public opinion.' The group maintains a powerful lobbying presence on those causes, testifying before Congress and reviewing legislation. Its president, Tony Perkins, said Wednesday the group's main concern was with the wounded guard.
Brian Brown, president National Organization for Marriage, which also opposes same-sex marriage, was less measured in his reaction, saying the shooting of the guard by someone who worked as a volunteer for a Gay rights group 'is the clearest sign we've seen that labeling pro-marriage groups as 'hateful' must end. The Southern Poverty Law Center has labeled the Family Research Council a 'hate group' for its pro-marriage views, and less than a day ago the Human Rights Campaign issued a statement calling FRC a 'hate group' - they even specified that FRC hosts events in Washington, D.C., where today's attack took place.
'For too long national Gay rights groups have intentionally marginalized and ostracized pro-marriage groups and individuals by labeling them as 'hateful' and 'bigoted' - such harmful and dangerous labels deserve no place in our civil society, and NOM renews its call today for Gay rights groups and the Southern Poverty Law Center to withdraw such incendiary rhetoric from a debate that involves millions of good Americans,' Brown continued.
'LICENSE TO SHOOT'?
But, according to the SPLC, the FRC is classified as a 'hate group' not simply because it opposes same-sex marriage but because it defames the LGBT community by promoting junk science about homosexuality and asserting that Gay men are more predisposed than straight men to pedophilia.
On Thursday, the FRC's Perkins charged that the SPLC's rhetoric gave the gunman 'a license to shoot.' The SPLC called that claim 'outrageous' and said the council had a pattern of 'demonizing' comments.
Michael McGough, senior editorial writer for the Los Angeles Times, wrote, 'Legality aside, blaming an act of violence on spokesmen for a cause to which the offender has attached himself is almost always a cheap shot. That's true whether it's liberals blaming the Tea Party for the attack on Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords or conservatives insinuating that Gay rights supporters have the blood of the Family Research Council guard on their hands.'
Share on Facebook
Share on Delicious
Share on StumbleUpon!