WASHINGTON — A gunman posing as an intern opened fire at the headquarters of the Family Research Council in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday morning after reportedly announcing his disagreement with the conservative group’s policies.
Metropolitan Police Department spokesperson Officer Araz Alali confirmed to LGBTQ Nation that one security guard, an adult male, was shot in the arm at about 10:50 a.m. in the building’s lobby at 801 G St., N.W., and was conscious and breathing after the shooting.
The guard, Leo Johnson, suffered a non-life-threatening wound, and was transported to a local hospital.
The gunman has been identified as 28-year-old Floyd Corkins II from nearby Herndon, Va., and was taken into custody shortly after the shooting.
According to an FBI source, the Corkins approached the front desk and said he was an intern before pulling a Sig Sauer 9 mm handgun from a backpack. He then expressed disagreement with the conservative group’s policy positions as he produced the weapon.
Johnson confronted the suspect, and they had an altercation before Corkins fired, striking Johnson in the arm. Despite his injury, the Johnson gained control of the weapon and held it on Corkins.
Authorities found two loaded magazines with 15 rounds each in Corkins’ backpack, as well as Chik-fil-A promotional materials.
“The security guard here is a hero, as far as I’m concerned,” D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier said. ”He did his job. The person never made it past the front. The security guard here is a hero, as far as I’m concerned.”
Darin Miller, a spokesman for the Family Research Council, said Johnson works for the FRC, and not for a private security agency.
Corkins had been a volunteer at the DC Center for the LGBT Community for the past six months. David Mariner, Executive Director of the center, described Corkins as “kind, gentle and unassuming.”
Police and the FBI said they have not yet made an official announcement related to Corkins’ motive for the shooting.
“We don’t know enough about him or his circumstances to determine what his connection is to this group or his mental state or what he was doing or thinking of doing,” said James McJunkin, Director of the FBI Field Office in Washington.
The FBI has joined in the investigation due to the possibility that the incident could be classified as a federal crime — a source to LGBTQ Nation said the FBI could be investigate the shooting as an act of domestic terrorism.
FRC President Tony Perkins released a brief statement, “The police are investigating this incident. Our first concern is with our colleague who was shot today. Our concern is for him and his family.”
The Family Research Council bills itself as “the leading voice for the family in our nation’s halls of power,” but, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, which has designated the organization a “hate group,” its real specialty “is defaming gays and lesbians.”
“The FRC often makes false claims about the LGBT community based on discredited research and junk science. The intention is to denigrate LGBT people in its battles against same-sex marriage, hate crimes laws, anti-bullying programs and the repeal of the military’s ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ policy, according to the SPLC.
“Today’s attack is the clearest sign we’ve seen that labeling pro-marriage groups as ‘hateful’ must end,” said Brian Brown, President of NOM. “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, DC, 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,” added Brown.
“There are unconfirmed reports that the shooting was ideologically motivated. We condemn all acts of violence and are following the story closely,” the SPLC said, in a brief statement.
Other LGBT advocacy groups also weighed in:
“This is an awful tragedy and our thoughts and hearts go out to the victim, his family, and his colleagues at the Family Research Council,” said Wayne Besen, Executive Director of Truth Wins Out, in a statement.
“In America we settle political differences through robust debate in the public square, not with violence. If the shooting is found to be politically motivated, it is a detestable act of cruelty and cowardice and the perpetrator should be punished to the fullest extent of the law,” said Besen.
“Though we rarely see eye to eye, we absolutely condemn the violence that occurred today,” said R. Clarke Cooper, Log Cabin Republicans Executive Director.
“Keeping in mind that at this time we know little about the shooter or his motives, whatever our political disagreements, in this country, we use ballots, not bullets, to address them. We offer prayers for the injured security guard, his family, and everybody at the FRC building,” added Cooper.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the victim and his family,” said Micheal Keegan, President of People for the American Way, which operates the “Right Wing Watch” website.
“We wish nothing but safety and security for the staff and supporters of the Family Research Council in the wake of this senseless act of violence,” said Jerame Davis, Executive Director of National Stonewall Democrats.
“Regardless of our strong and vehement disagreement with the organization and the politics for which they stand, violence is never an appropriate reaction and should be condemned,” said Davis.
On Wednesday afternoon, more than two dozen national and regional LGBT advocacy organizations released a joint statement denouncing the shooting.