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Family Research Council shooter sentenced to 25 years

FBI unit at Family Research Council headquarters, gay news, Washington Blade

A lone gunman opened fire inside the Family Research Council headquarters last year. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

A Virginia man who pleaded guilty to shooting a security guard in the arm at the Family Research Council headquarters in Washington last year in a foiled attempt to commit a mass killing of FRC employees was sentenced on Thursday to 25 years in prison.

Floyd Lee Corkins II, 29, told the FBI shortly after his arrest that he targeted the FRC because of its positions opposing gay rights and same-sex marriage. He pleaded guilty in February to committing an act of terrorism while armed, assault with intent to kill while armed and interstate transportation of a firearm and ammunition.

Corkins worked for several months in 2012 as a volunteer at the D.C. LGBT Community Center, but neither law enforcement authorities nor D.C. Center officials have disclosed whether Corkins is gay.

D.C. police and the FBI, which investigated the case, have credited security guard and FRC building manager Leonardo Johnson with preventing Corkins from carrying out his stated plan to kill as many people as possible at the FRC building.

In what authorities have called an act of heroism, Johnson, 47, wrestled Corkins to the floor in the lobby of the FRC building at 801 G St., N.W., and disarmed him after Corkins fired three shots, one of which struck Johnson in the arm. Authorities said Johnson’s action prevented Corkins from gaining access to the upper floors of the building where about 80 employees were working.

Prosecutors with the U.S. Attorney’s office called for a sentence of 45 years while Corkins’ attorney, citing Corkins’ history of mental illness, asked for a sentence of 11 and a half years.

Floyd Lee Corkins II, Family Research Council, gay news, Washington Blade

Floyd Lee Corkins II (Photo courtesy the U.S. Attorney’s Office)

Chief Judge Richard W. Roberts of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia said his sentence of 25 years took into consideration Corkins’ “horrific” action as well as mitigating factors such as his mental illness and his decision to take responsibility for his behavior.

Roberts told Corkins his stated intent to kill people to advance his political beliefs in support of gay rights would have the opposite effect. He praised others seeking to advance a political cause, including gay rights, who use peaceful means to promote such a cause.

“When the president spoke up it changed minds,” he said in referring to President Obama’s support for same-sex marriage.

“Killing human beings is not political activism. It’s criminal behavior,” Roberts said.

Just before Roberts handed down his sentence Johnson and FRC president Tony Perkins addressed the court to give their recommendations on the sentencing.

Johnson turned toward Corkins and said he forgave him for what he did but said he would never forget the harm Corkins inflicted on him and the negative impact it has had on his family.

After the sentencing hearing Johnson told reporters outside the courthouse that once he wrestled the gun from Corkins and feared that Corkins might still attempt to attack him he chose not to shoot Corkins “because God told me not to do it.”

Within minutes, D.C. police arrived on the scene and took Corkins into custody. He has remained in jail since the time of his arrest at the scene of the incident on Aug. 15, 2012.

At the time of his arrest, police and FBI agents found a stash of ammunition in Corkins’ backpack along with about 15 Chick-fil-A sandwiches. Corkins later told FBI agents he planned to smear the sandwiches in the faces of the FRC employees he planned to kill as a form of retaliation against the statements by the Chick-fil-A company’s owner opposing same-sex marriage.

Perkins told the court that Corkins and his plan to kill as many FRC staff members as possible put the staff “in the crosshairs of a political assassin” and has kept the organization and its employees in a state of fear.

“Life for all of us has changed,” he said.

Leo Johnson, Tony Perkins, Family Research Council, Values Voter Summit

Leonardo Johnson with Family Research Council President Tony Perkins (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Perkins reiterated statements he has made in the past that Corkins was instigated, at least in part, to target FRC by the Southern Poverty Law Center. He cited the Center’s decision to identify FRC as a hate group because of its anti-gay advocacy work.

Officials with the Southern Poverty Law Center, a civil rights organization, have said their classification of FRC as a hate group is based on its attempt to disparage and demean gay people by linking them and homosexuality to pedophilia. The officials have said the ‘hate’ label is not based on FRC’s opposition to gay rights legislation or its political beliefs.

In his own statement at the sentencing hearing, Corkins apologized to Johnson and FRC, saying he still disagrees with the organization’s positions.

“I realize violence for political reasons is wrong,” he said.

In a 20-minute multi-media presentation in the courtroom, which included the showing of slides and video footage of Corkins, prosecutors argued that Corkins carried out a clearly orchestrated plan to commit mass murder in the days before the FRC shooting.

Assistant U.S. Attorney T. Patrick Martin, one of the two prosecutors working on the case, disputed defense attorney David Bos’s assertion that Corkins was not in full control of his behavior based on his diagnoses of having “major depressive disorder with psychotic features.”

Bos argued that Corkins was being treated with prescription drugs that effectively eliminated symptoms of his mental illness but Corkins failed to take his medication on the day before the FRC shooting incident.

Martin argued that in the week or so before the shooting, Corkins purchased a pistol and ammunition at a Virginia gun store, returned to the store to practice his shooting technique, purchased the sandwiches at a Chick-fil-A restaurant, and even traveled to the FRC building a few days before the incident to see if he could gain entrance as part of a “rehearsal” of his plans.

Martin pointed to one of the slides projected on a large screen in the courtroom that stated, “He knows what he was doing…The treatment he received was working. And it helped him execute his plan.”

National and local LGBT rights organizations, including the D.C. LGBT Center, issued statements at the time of the shooting condemning Corkins’ actions and wishing Johnson a speedy recovery from his injury.

19
Sep
2013

Jesusland to gorge itself in support of Duck Dynasty

Nothing woos soccer moms and millennials like making Charlie Manson's younger brother your party's new posterboy.

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27
Dec
2013

Family Research Council shooter pleads guilty

A Herndon, Va., man arrested last August for shooting an unarmed security guard in the lobby of the anti-gay Family Research Council headquarters in downtown Washington pleaded guilty on Wednesday to three felony charges, including the charge of committing an act of terrorism while armed.

Floyd Lee Corkins II, 28, who has been held in jail since his arrest last August, signed a charging document before appearing in court on Wednesday confirming that he intended to commit a mass killing at the FRC building, a federal prosecutor said in court.

“[C]orkins targeted the Family Research Council because of its political views, including its advocacy against recognition of gay marriage,” according to a statement released Wednesday by the U.S. Attorney’s office.

“He entered the building with the intention of shooting and killing as many employees of the organization as he could,” the statement says.

The wounded security guard has been credited by D.C. police and the FBI with saving the lives of FRC employees working on the building’s upper floors by wrestling Corkins to the floor and taking away the semi-automatic handgun Corkins wielded while attempting to gain access to the elevator.

The guard suffered a gunshot wound to the arm and has undergone several rounds of surgery in connection with the injury.

In addition to the terrorism charge, Corkins pleaded guilty to charges of assault with intent to kill while armed and interstate transportation of a firearm and ammunition. He faces a potential maximum sentence of 70 years in prison.

U.S. District Court Judge Richard W. Roberts scheduled a sentencing hearing for April 29.

Corkins, who worked for a short time as a volunteer at D.C.’s LGBT Community Center in 2011, has not disclosed his sexual orientation.

In new information released this week, the U.S. Attorney’s office said police and FBI agents investigating the case found a handwritten list on Corkins’ possession containing the names of the Family Research Council and “three other organizations that openly identify themselves as having socially conservative agenda.” The U.S. Attorney’s office didn’t identify the other organizations, saying only that Corkins intended to target them had he succeeded in his planned shooting at the FRC.

Prosecutors also disclosed for the first time that Corkins returned to a gun store in Virginia where he purchased the gun on the night before he arrived at the FRC building and engaged in shooting practice.

Authorities previously disclosed that they had discovered in Corkins’ backpack a box of 50 rounds of 9 mm ammunition and 15 individually wrapped sandwiches he bought the previous day from Chik-fil-A.

FBI unit at Family Research Council headquarters, gay news, Washington Blade

Floyd Lee Corkins II was accused of shooting a security guard inside the Family Research Council’s headquarters building in August. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

In the statement released on Wednesday, the U.S. Attorney’s office disclosed that Corkins told FBI agents interviewing him after his arrest that he planned to “smother the Chick-fil-A sandwiches” into the faces of the FRC employees he intended to shoot.

In a separate court filing last week, prosecutors disclosed that they searched of Corkins’ family computer at the Herndon home where he lived with his parents. The computer search showed that he apparently obtained the list of socially conservative groups he planned to target, including the FRC, from the website of the Southern Poverty Law Center.

SPLC has listed FRC as a hate group based, among other things, on its portrayal of homosexuality and gay people as being associated with pedophilia.

In a statement released on Wednesday, FRC President Tony Perkins reiterated his earlier assertion that Southern Poverty Law Center was responsible for creating a climate that led to someone like Corkins seeking to commit violence.

“[I] stated that while Corkins was responsible for the shooting, he had been given a license to perpetrate this act of violence by groups like the Southern Poverty Law Center which has systematically and recklessly labeled every organization with which they disagree as a ‘hate group,’” Perkins said.

Southern Poverty Law Center officials have denounced Perkins for misrepresenting their position, saying they never label an organization as a hate group based on political views or public policy positions. SPLC officials have said they list FRC as a hate group for what they say are its false and defamatory claims linking homosexuality and LGBT people to pedophilia.

07
Feb
2013

Fugitive ex-cop threatens to shoot lesbian police officers

Metro DC Police, gay news, Washington Blade

Police continue to search for former LAPD officer Christopher Dorner. (Washington Blade photo by Phil Reese)

A former Los Angeles police officer who remains on the run after allegedly killing three people threatened to kill lesbian law enforcement officials in a rambling manifesto.

“Those lesbian officers in supervising positions who go to work, day in and day out, with the sole intent of attempting to prove your misandrist authority (not feminism) to degrade male officers,” Christopher Dorner wrote in a message investigators said he posted to his Facebook page. “You are a high value target.”

Dorner, 33, also singled out the Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kan., in his manifesto. He specifically mentioned comedians Margaret Cho and Wanda Sykes, CNN anchor Anderson Cooper and other journalists and celebrities.

“Ellen Degeneres, continue your excellent contribution to entertaining America and bringing the human factor to entertainment,” Dorner wrote. “You changed the perception of your gay community and how we as Americans view the LGBT community. I congratulate you on your success and opening my eyes as a young adult, and my generation to the fact that you are know different from us other than who you choose to love. Oh, and you Prop 8 supporters, why the fuck do you care who your neighbor marries. Hypocritical pieces of shit.”

Dorner also referenced the controversy that erupted last summer after Chick-fil-A President Dan Cathy spoke out against same-sex marriage during an interview.

“LGBT community and supporters, the same way you have the right to voice your opinion on acceptance of gay marriage, Chick-fil-A has a right to voice their beliefs as well,” he wrote. “That’s what makes America so great. Freedom of expression. Don’t be assholes and boycott/degrade their business and customers who patronize the locations. They make some damn good chicken! Vandalizing (graffiti) their locations does not help any cause.”

Authorities maintain Dorner’s murder spree began on Sunday night when he allegedly shot Monica Quan, an assistant women’s basketball coach at California State University-Fullerton, and her finace to death inside the garage of their Orange County condominium. The Associated Press and other media outlets have reported Quan’s father, a former LAPD captain, represented Dorner during a disciplinary hearing before the department fired him in September 2008.

Dorner allegedly killed a Riverside police officer and critically wounded his partner early Thursday morning during an ambush at an intersection. Authorities said he also shot an LAPD officer in the same area roughly 10 minutes later.

LAPD officers a few hours later mistakenly shot two women in Torrance who were delivering newspapers from a vehicle that matched the description of the truck authorities say belongs to Dorner—vandals targeted a Chick-fil-A in the same Los Angeles suburb in August.

The Los Angeles Times reported Torrance police officers opened fire on a second vehicle that matched the description of Dorner’s truck less than 30 minutes later.

A massive manhunt for Dorner continues across Southern California.

08
Feb
2013

Video: Trade your homosexuality for a Chick-fil-A sandwich?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dZjzRA7gONs

Would you like a coupon to trade in your homosexuality for a free chicken sandwich?

15
Jan
2013

Year in review: LGBT Center volunteer charged in shooting

FBI unit at Family Research Council headquarters, gay news, Washington Blade

Floyd Lee Corkins II was accused of shooting a security guard inside the Family Research Council’s headquarters building in August. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

D.C. police and the FBI have yet to disclose whether they uncovered a motive in the Aug. 15 non-fatal shooting of a security guard in the lobby of the anti-gay Family Research Council’s headquarters in downtown Washington.

Herndon, Va., resident Floyd Lee Corkins II, 28, a former part-time volunteer for D.C.’s LGBT community center, has pleaded not guilty to a 10-count grand jury indictment in connection with the shooting, including the charge of committing an act of terrorism while armed.

According to the indictment and other charging documents, Corkins allegedly shot the security guard in the arm seconds after he entered the FRC building at 801 G Street, N.W., and told the guard, Leo Johnson, “I don’t like your politics.”

D.C. police and officials with the FBI said they discovered 50 rounds of ammunition and 15 Chick-fil-A sandwiches in a backpack Corkins brought to the FRC building. They said the finding led them to believe Corkins may have planned a mass killing if Johnson had not prevented him from gaining access to the FRC offices on the building’s upper floors.

Some have speculated that Corkins targeted the FRC because of its anti-gay positions and its statements denouncing gay activists for organizing a boycott of the Chick-fil-A fast food restaurant chain because its owner has contributed money to anti-gay groups opposed to same-sex marriage.

But authorities have yet to disclose whether Corkins is gay or whether they determined his motive for the shooting.

Officials with the D.C. Center said they knew little about Corkins other than he volunteered to staff the Center’s front desk on weekends for a period of a few months. They said there were no signs of any problems associated with his work.

Center officials joined local and national LGBT leaders in condemning the shooting. Corkins has been held in jail since the time of his arrest on the day of the shooting. A pre-trial status conference in U.S. District Court is scheduled for Jan. 8.

26
Dec
2012

Year in review: Chick-fil-A, Boy Scouts assailed for anti-gay policies

Chick-fil-A, anti-gay donations, gay news, Washington Blade

Chick-Fil-A Appreciation drew supporters and protesters. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Advocates in 2012 criticized a number of national business chains and organizations for their anti-LGBT policies.

Activists organized protests outside Chick-fil-A restaurants across the country after Dan Cathy, president of the Atlanta-based fast food chain, spoke out against same-sex marriage during an interview. A University of Maryland-College Park student launched a petition to remove Chick-fil-A from the campus food court, but some questioned the effectiveness of those efforts.

Vandals targeted Chick-fil-A restaurants in Frederick, Md., and in at least two other locations across the country in the weeks after Cathy’s controversial comments. Local and federal law officials said Floyd Lee Corkins, II, had 15 Chick-fil-A sandwiches in his backpack when he allegedly shot Family Research Council security guard Leo Johnson at the anti-gay group’s downtown Washington headquarters in August.

The Boy Scouts of America’s long-standing policy against openly gay scouts and scout leaders came under increased scrutiny in April after the organization ousted Jennifer Tyrrell as leader of her son’s troop in Ohio. The Boy Scouts of America Executive Board in July reaffirmed the policy, but the organization has lost funding from a number of prominent organizations. These include the Merck and UPS Foundations.

27
Dec
2012