WASHINGTON (WUSA/AP) - There are charges and counter-charges from activists now in the shooting at a conservative lobbying group downtown.
Tony Perkins said an activist group gave the shooter license to attack the Family Research Council by labeling the FRC an anti-gay hate group. "Perkins was given license to shoot an unarmed man by organizations like the Southern Poverty Law Center that have been reckless in labeling organizations hate groups because they disagree with them on public policy."
The Southern Poverty Law Center has spent decadeschallenging hate groups like the KKK in court. It's called Perkins words, "outrageous" and "demonizing."
Rick Rosendall of DC's Gay and Lesbian ActivistsAlliance said he appreciated the fact that the FRC agreed that hate speech could incite violence by unhinged individuals. But he said the FRC should look in the mirror. And he saidgays, lesbians andtransgendered people havebeen violently attacked far more frequently than social conservatives.
The operations manager and security guard shot on Wednesday morning at the FRC building is recovering after surgery and the man suspected of shooting him has been charged. Perkins visited Leonardo 'Leo' Johnson, and had this to say:
"I was at the hospital last night when he came out of surgery shortly before midnight. The surgery went well.
When I told him his actions were heroic in protecting his colleagues, he told me that he just reacted in the way he thought anyone at FRC would have responded.
We are very grateful for the outpouring of prayers from literally around the world."
FRC spokesperson J.P. Duffy says the security guard has been on staff for a few years.
At a Thursday afternoon press conference outside FRC headquarters, Perkins said that when he visited Johnson and called him a hero, Johnson replied that "this hero business is hard work." Perkins also explained that while Johnson does perform in a security capacity, his official job is as the FRC's building operations manager. Johnson, of SE Washington D.C., was not in uniform and does not carry a gun and thus was not armed when he was shot.
The mansuspected of shooting Johnson in the lobby has been identified as Floyd Corkins II of Herndon, Va. A criminal complaint was filed on Thursday morning in the U.S. District Court of Columbia and Corkins has been charged withthe federal offense of interstate transportation of a firearm and ammunition, and the District of Columbia offense of assault with intent to kill while armed.
According to Department of Justice officials, the federal charge carries up to 10 years imprisonment while the D.C. charge carries up to 30 years imprisonment. They note that the D.C. also carries a mandatory-minimum term of five years imprisonment.
According to the complaint, surveillance video showed Corkins talking to Johnson then pulling a gun from his backpack and pointing it at Johnson. Then Corkins shot at Johnson, hitting him in the arm.
Then, according to the complaint, "After being wounded, Mr. Johnson moved towards CORKINS, wrestled the firearm away from CORKINS, and subdued him"
Another security guard then called 9-1-1. After arriving at the scene, FBI agents took Corkins into custody.
According to the complaint, a witness to the incident on Wednesday said that Corkins stated, "I don't like your politics."
FBI agents recovered a loaded Sig Sauer 9mm pistol, along with two additional magazines loaded with 9mm ammunition, a wallet with Corkin's Virginia's driver's license and a Metro farecard, and Corkins' backpack with a box of Federal brand 9mm ammunition, 50 rounds of ammunition and 15 Chick-fil-A sandwiches.
A Chick-fil-A public relations official released the following statement about that last find:
"Chick-fil-A has not been contacted by the authorities in relation to the incident at Family Research Council headquarters yesterday. Because it is a police matter and we do not yet know the facts, we would prefer not to speculate on the issue. Our thoughts are with the security guard who was injured in the incident and his family."
The complaint shows that during questioning, Corkins said he had parked his car at the East Falls Church Metro station. Agents were able to find the car, which had an "open black box resembling a gun box" on the passenger seat. They found out that the car was registered to Corkins' parents, who he has been living with recently.
Corkins' parents told agents, according to the complaint, that he has "strong opinions with respect to those he believes do not treat homosexuals in a fair manner."
Corkins had been volunteering at a community center for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people.
David Mariner is executive director of The DC Center for the LGBT Community. He says Corkins had been volunteering at the center for about the past six months. Mariner describes Corkins as "kind, gentle and unassuming."
When Coorkins appeared in federal court Thursday, AP reports, he was wearing a white prison jumpsuit and showed no visible emotions or reactions.
When the judge asked if he could afford a private attorney, Corkins responded that he only had $300 to his name. The judge assigned a public defender.
Corkins was ordered to be held without bond and a detention hearing was scheduled for next Friday. Prosecutors also asked for a mental evaluation.
After the shooting, many people have asked: what is the Family Research Council? According to its website, the FRC "was founded in 1983 with the mission to champion marriage and family as the foundation of civilization, the seed-bed of virtue, and the well-spring of society." It advocates repealing no-fault divorce laws and is against same-sex marriage and abortion.
At Thursday's press conference, Perkins said he wanted to "express my appreciation to the groups and organizations that we do not agree with on many public policy issues who have also expressed their outrage at what took place yesterday...I appreciate them making those statements but I would ask them to go a step further and to join us in calling for an end to the reckless rhetoric that I believe led to yesterday's incident..."