Suspect charged in Washington Family Rights Council shooting
WASHINGTON (CNN) — The suspect in Wednesday's shooting of a building manager at the headquarters of a conservative Christian group was charged Thursday with assault with intent to kill, ordered to undergo a mental health evaluation and held without bond.
In his initial appearance in U.S. District Court, Floyd Lee Corkins II, 28, was also charged with interstate transportation of a firearm and ammunition.
The assault charge is a District of Columbia offense that carries a maximum 30-year sentence. The federal firearms charge carries a 10-year maximum sentence.
A criminal complaint, citing a witness, says that Corkins entered the Washington office of the Family Research Council at about 11 a.m. and encountered Johnson at the front door. The witness told FBI agents that Corkins "stated words to the effect of, 'I don't like your politics,' " the complaint says.
Surveillance video shows that Corkins took a firearm from his backpack and shot Johnson in the arm, at which point Johnson "wrestled the firearm away from Corkins, and subdued him," according to the complaint.
Officials recovered a loaded Sig Sauer 9mm pistol and two additional loaded 9mm magazines, according to the complaint.
Inside the backpack, police found a box containing 50 rounds of 9mm ammunition and 15 Chick-fil-A sandwiches, the complaint says.
In an interview with CNN affiliate WJLA, Johnson said Corkins told him he was there to interview for an internship, then shot him without warning.
Johnson said it was after he had wrestled Corkins to the ground that the suspect told him the shooting was about the group's policies, according to WJLA.
FRC President Tony Perkins told reporters Thursday that Johnson has a secondary role as a security guard, but that he was unarmed and did not wear a uniform.
Perkins accused a liberal organization of having played a role in the shooting.
"Let me be clear that Floyd Corkins was responsible for firing the shot yesterday," Perkins said. "But Corkins was given a 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.
"And I believe the Southern Poverty Law Center should be held accountable for their reckless use of terminology that is leading to the intimidation and what the FBI here has categorized as an act of domestic terrorism."
The Christian group, which focuses on family and anti-abortion issues and religious liberties, recently supported Chick-fil-A President Dan Cathy, who had become embroiled in controversy after comments h made in support of traditional marriage.
"We are very much supportive of the family, the biblical definition of the family unit," he told The Baptist Press in an interview published on July 16. "We are a family-owned business, a family-led business, and we are married to our first wives. We give God thanks for that."
The statement sparked an uproar, with activists saying that Cathy voiced opposition to gay marriages.
Corkins "has strong opinions with respect to those he believes do not treat homosexuals in a fair manner," authorities said in the complaint, citing the suspect's parents, with whom he lives in Herndon, Virginia, outside Washington.
Asked what evidence he had linking the center to the shooting, Perkins referred to the Chick-fil-A matter.
"You have seen Family Research Council listed in many of those stories -- that Chick fil-A supports and underwrites the Family Research Council.
"And in those stories where it says the Family Research Council it says they're a certified hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. We've seen that term used increasingly over the last two years and it marginalizes individuals and organizations, letting people feel free to go and do bodily harm to innocent people who are simply working and representing folks all across this country."
He said the company gave the FRC $1,000 "a number of years ago" but does not underwrite his group.
The SPLC did not immediately respond to a request for reaction.
Perkins said that he was with the wounded building operations manager when the man came out of surgery about midnight.
"I said, 'Leo, I want you to know that you're a hero.' "
"He said, 'Wow, this hero business is hard work.' So, he did not lose his sense of humor."
Perkins predicted Johnson would return to work soon.
While D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier and others have hailed Johnson as a hero, WJLA reported the 46-year-old told the station in a telephone interview that he was simply doing his job and is not comfortable being described as a hero.
Johnson's mother, Virginia Johnson, told the station her son is always trying to help people.
"I think it's wonderful, wonderful," she said of his actions.
Corkins told investigators he acted alone, according to the complaint.
Authorities found what appeared to be an open gun box on the seat of his car, which had been parked at the East Falls Church Metro station, according to the complaint.
Corkins legally purchased the handgun from a gun shop in Virginia within the last week, according to a law enforcement official.
Corkins had volunteered at the DC Center for the LGBT Community, a source working with the center told CNN. The group provides services and support to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people,
He received a master's degree from George Mason University's College of Education and Human Development in 2006, the university said.
David Mariner, executive director of the DC Center, released a statement Wednesday saying he was "shocked to hear that someone who has volunteered with the DC Center could be the cause of such a tragic act of violence.
"No matter the circumstances, we condemn such violence in the strongest terms possible. We hope for a full and speedy recovery for the victim and our thoughts are with him and his family," Mariner said in the statement.
White House spokesman Jay Carney said President Barack Obama was "very concerned" about Johnson, who is hospitalized in Washington.
Carney declined to say whether the White House considers the attack a hate crime, but said Obama "firmly believes that violence of that kind has no place in our society."
Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney used nearly identical language in decrying the attack on Wednesday.
"There is no place for such violence in our society," he said in a statement. "My prayers go out to the wounded security guard and his family, as well as all the people at the Family Research Council whose sense of security has been shattered by today's horrific events."
The National Organization for Marriage, which has campaigned against same-sex marriage efforts, also condemned what it termed an attack on the Family Research Council.
"Everything points to the fact that this was politically motivated, and it's totally unacceptable," National Organization for Marriage President Brian Brown said Thursday on CNN's "Early Start."
Brown too called out the hate-tracking group Southern Poverty Law Center for listing the Family Research Council on its website, saying it was equating the group with violent extremist groups.
"The responsibility is on the shooter, but we need to have a civil debate over issues like redefining marriage," he said. "But we should not be attacking and labeling as hate groups those that we disagree. We should condemn violence of any sort, but we should also be responsible."
The SPLC says the Family Research Council defames gays and tries to make the case that the LGBT community is a threat to American society.
The council says it promotes "faith, family and freedom in public policy and public opinion."
CNN's Greg Seaby, Javi Morgado, Paul Courson, Sandra Endo, Mike M. Ahlers and Dan Gilgoff contributed to this report.
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