August 15, 2012 at 2:31 pm EDT | by Lou Chibbaro Jr.
Suspected gunman worked for DC gay center
FBI unit at Family Research Council headquarters, gay news, Washington Blade

The Family Research Council headquarters building in Washington D.C. was cordoned off by police and the FBI Wednesday. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

The suspect apprehended Wednesday morning for the shooting of a security guard in the lobby of the headquarters of the Family Research Council, one of the nation’s leading anti-gay groups, worked as a volunteer for the DC Center for the LGBT Community.

“We’re as surprised as everyone else,” DC Center President Michael Sessa told the Blade Wednesday night. “He volunteered for us.”

The Associated Press reported that a law enforcement official identified the suspect as Floyd Corkins II, 28, of Herndon, Va. The AP was the first to report that Corkins worked as a volunteer for the D.C. Center, but it didn’t disclose how it learned of Corkins’ association with the Center.

Sessa said the Center conducted a background check on Corkins.

Police and the FBI said a suspect shot the security guard in the arm about 10:50 a.m. Wednesday in the building’s lobby at 801 G St., N.W., which is located about a block from the Verizon Center. The guard, who suffered a non-life-threatening wound, was taken to a hospital for treatment, a police spokesperson said.

D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier and FBI Washington Field Office Director James McJunkin told reporters at a news briefing outside the building that the FBI took a male suspect into custody in connection with the case and had not charged him as of Wednesday afternoon.

The Washington Post reported that police and the FBI said they had yet to determine a 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,” the Post quoted McJunkin as saying. “So we’re going to try to sort this all out, pull the evidence together, do all the interviews we can,” the Post quoted McJunkin as saying.

Fox News reported an unidentified source familiar with the incident said the suspect “made statements regarding [the Family Research Council’s] polices and then opened fire with a gun striking the security guard.”

“He always struck me as kind, gentle and unassuming young man,” the AP quoted Center director David Mariner as saying. “I’m very surprised that he could be involved in something like this.”

According to the Post, McJunkin said the FBI became involved because of the possibility that the incident could be classified as a federal crime. The Post reported that as of early Wednesday, it was not clear whether D.C. police or the FBI would take the lead in the investigation.

D.C. police spokesperson Araz Alali told the Blade that the FBI became involved because the building in which the shooting occurred was federally owned. But the U.S. General Services Administration, which administers federal buildings, couldn’t immediately be reached to confirm whether the federal government owns or has an interest in the building.

A flag bearing the name of the Family Research Council hangs over the front of the building. The words “Faith, Family, Freedom” are inscribed in the building’s façade.

The Family Research Council and its executive director, Tony Perkins, have long denounced homosexuality as immoral and have linked it to pedophilia. The group has lobbied Congress and state legislatures in opposition to virtually all LGBT rights legislation.

The Southern Poverty Law Center, a nationally recognized civil rights group, has included FRC on its list of “hate groups,” saying it so classified the group because of its use of false and misleading information to defame LGBT people in a way that harms the LGBT community.

R. Clarke Cooper, executive director of the national gay group Log Cabin Republicans, released a statement condemning the shooting.

“As fellow conservatives, Log Cabin Republicans are often in the same room with the Family Research Council,” Cooper said. “Though we rarely see eye to eye, we absolutely condemn the violence that occurred today,” Cooper said.

“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, barely a fifteen minute walk away from Log Cabin Republicans national headquarters,” Cooper said. “In many ways, this is a reminder that we aren’t so far apart.”

An FRC spokesperson couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.

The leaders of 40 LGBT advocacy organized issued a joint statement expressing sadness over the shooting incident at the Family Research Council building.

“Our hearts go out to the shooting victim, his family, and his co-workers,” the statement says. “The motivation and circumstances behind today’s tragedy are still unknown, but regardless of what emerges as the reason for this shooting, we utterly reject and condemn such violence. We wish for a swift and complete recovery for the victim of this terrible incident.”

Among those signing the statement were the heads of the Human Rights Campaign; National Gay and Lesbian Task Force; Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays; National Center for Transgender Equality; and the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, which released the statement on its letterhead. David Mariner, executive director of the D.C. LGBT Center, also signed the statement.

D.C. transgender activist Jeri Hughes said she, too, condemns the shooting incident at the FRC headquarters but asked why a half dozen or more FBI agents rushed to the scene of an incident that appeared to be a local law enforcement matter.

“I’d love to have the FBI investigate all the unsolved murders of the transgender women here in D.C. over the last several years,” Hughes said.

FBI spokesperson Jacqueline MaGuire told the Blade Wednesday night that the FBI and D.C. police were working with the U.S. Attorney’s office and an announcement would be made Thursday morning on a charge or charges expected to be filed against the suspect.

Lou Chibbaro Jr. has reported on the LGBT civil rights movement and the LGBT community for more than 30 years, beginning as a freelance writer and later as a staff reporter and currently as Senior News Reporter for the Washington Blade. He has chronicled LGBT-related developments as they have touched on a wide range of social, religious, and governmental institutions, including the White House, Congress, the U.S. Supreme Court, the military, local and national law enforcement agencies and the Catholic Church. Chibbaro has reported on LGBT issues and LGBT participation in local and national elections since 1976. He has covered the AIDS epidemic since it first surfaced in the early 1980s. Follow Lou

  • As wrong as this was, I can’t help but think that the FRC should crack open their bible and read this little passage–“you reap what you sow.” What do you expect to happen when you spend all your time and financial resources sowing hate?

  • I hope this poor guard recovers quickly.

  • I have to say, as much as I do NOT condone the violence, it couldn’t have happened to a more appropriate group. All the gay bashing / woman bashing / race bashing they do, they are, as another poster commented “reaping what they have sewn”. But very much not happy at all about the guard being injured, but pleased it was not worse.

  • Did the cops eat the 15 chik-fil-a sammiches?

  • Terrible thing to do. Some people would think this a hate crime. Guess straights are not the only ones that can be accused of hate crimes

    • Yes, but it appears some believe they are OK, if targeted at the right people, just like the Klan thought is the South some years ago in the not too distant past. it’s good to see evolution working.

  • *****
    D.C. transgender activist Jeri Hughes said she, too, condemns the shooting incident at the FRC headquarters but asked why a half dozen or more FBI agents rushed to the scene of an incident that appeared to be a local law enforcement matter.

    “I’d love to have the FBI investigate all the unsolved murders of the transgender women here in D.C. over the last several years,” Hughes said.

    What she said.

  • I am sorry but as a human and as a gay man I am ashamed of some of these comments. I see our response to this and to the Chik-Fil-A incident, in general to be shameful and one that goes against everything the gay rights movement stands for. We are for human rights. We want what everyone has. To state that somehow the FRC deserved it, just affirms what others say about a gay man who is beaten to death on the street for being gay. Shame on us and shame on those who are not as outraged by Conklin’s acts as they were when Matthew Shepard was left to die on the fence in Laramie, Wyoming. I don’t agree with the FRC on ANYTHING. I will never give them money and every time they are on one side of the aisle screaming that I should not have rights I will be on the other side screaming right back asserting that they are incorrect and that I should. But I would never ask them or expect them to stop screaming. First Amendment is FIRST for a reason. We will win the fight for equality despite the FRC and all those groups that try to keep us down. But we will never win if we keep cheering when something like this happens. When we cheer people who vandalize a Chik-Fil-A or when we say something like “you reap what you sow” all you are doing is perpetuating the hate. Why not direct your hate to educating those who do not understand we are just as entitled to get married as anyone else. We should never be fired for being gay. We should never be held down because we are gay. We should be given every right that everyone else has. An eye for an eye leaves everyone blind.

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