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Suspected gunman appears in court; charged with assault with intent to kill

Prosecutors ask for mental health evaluation

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Law gavel, gay news, Washington Blade

Floyd Lee Corkins II was ordered held without bond on Thursday by a federal judge one day after the FBI and D.C. police apprehended him for allegedly shooting a security guard in the lobby of the headquarters of one of the nation’s leading anti-gay groups. (Photo via Wikimedia)

Herndon, Va., resident Floyd Lee Corkins II, 28, a part-time volunteer for D.C.’s LGBT community center, was ordered held without bond on Thursday by a federal judge one day after the FBI and D.C. police apprehended him for allegedly shooting a security guard in the lobby of the headquarters of one of the nation’s leading anti-gay groups.

The FBI placed Corkins in custody around 11 a.m. Wednesday in the lobby of the Family Research Council’s national headquarters at 801 G Street, N.W., after police said he shot security officer Leo Johnson in the arm. Police said Johnson, who sustained a non-life-threatening wound, and other guards wrestled Calkins to the floor and took away the gun.

U.S. District Court Judge Alan Kay ordered Corkins held until Aug. 24, when a joint preliminary and detention hearing will be held in which prosecutors must present evidence showing probable cause that Corkins committed offenses related to two charges filed against him Thursday morning by the FBI.

One of the charges is the federal offense of interstate transportation of a firearm and ammunition. The second is a D.C. offense of assault with intent to kill while armed.

FBI officials said the firearms charge was brought because Corkins transported the gun and ammunition from Virginia, where he purchased them legally, to D.C. for the purpose of committing a crime.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Patrick Martin, one of two prosecutors in the case, asked Kay during the court hearing to arrange for Corkins to undergo a psychiatric evaluation before the preliminary and detention hearing set for Aug. 24. Kay responded by calling the prosecutors and court appointed defense attorney David Vos to a private bench conference to discuss the request.

When the bench conference ended, Kay adjourned the hearing without announcing whether he approved or denied the government’s request for the psychiatric evaluation.

William Miller, a spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney’s office, said after the hearing that Kay granted the government’s request for a mental health evaluation of Corkins.

D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier called Johnson a hero for risking his life by preventing Corkins from entering the upper floors of the building where Family Research Council employees work. Lanier said that while authorities were not certain what Corkins’ motive was, a stash of ammunition recovered from his backpack suggested he might have been planning a mass killing.

An FBI arrest affidavit filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia Thursday morning says a witness told the FBI “Corkins stated words to the effect of ‘I don’t like your politics’ to Johnson and other security officials in the lobby seconds before he pulled out his gun and shot Johnson.

The FBI, which is leading the investigation into the case, charged Corkins with the federal offense of interstate transportation of a firearm and ammunition. It also charged him with the D.C. offense of assault with intent to kill while armed.

The affidavit says authorities recovered from the scene a loaded Sig Suer 9mm pistol that Corkins allegedly used to shoot Johnson and two magazines loaded with 9mm ammunition.

It says the FBI also recovered from a backpack that Corkins had with him a box containing an additional 50 rounds of 9mm ammunition along with fifteen Chick-fil-A- sandwiches.

Tony Perkins, Family Research Council, gay news, Washington Blade

Tony Perkins said the Chick fil-A sandwiches found in Corkins’ backpack strongly suggest that he had targeted the FRC for its conservative political beliefs, possibly including its opposition to same-sex marriage. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

In a news conference Thursday outside the Family Research Council’s headquarters, held less than an hour after Corkins appeared in court, FRC Executive Director Tony Perkins said the Chick fil-A sandwiches found in Corkins’ backpack strongly suggest that he had targeted the FRC for its conservative political beliefs, possibly including its opposition to same-sex marriage.

Perkins noted that the Family Research Council had issued statements in support of Chick-fil-A during the past several weeks, after some gay activists criticized the company’s president for his opposition to same-sex marriage.

Perkins appeared to make note of the LGBT organizations that spoke out against the shooting of the FRC security officer when he told reporters, “I do also want 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 here yesterday.”

But Perkins created a stir among LGBT groups when he criticized the pro-LGBT Southern Poverty Law Center, a nationally recognized civil rights group, for being “reckless” for labeling groups like the FRC as hate groups.

“I want to be clear that Floyd Corkins was responsible for firing the shot yesterday that wounded one of our colleagues and our friend Leo Johnson,” Perkins said.

“But Corkins was given license to shoot an unarmed man by organizations like the Southern Poverty Law Center that have been reckless in labeling organizations as hate groups because they disagree with them on public policy,” Perkins said. “And I believe the Southern Poverty Law Center should be held accountable for their reckless use of terminology that is leading to the intimidation in what the FBI here has categorized as an act of domestic terrorism.”

In a statement posted on its website Thursday afternoon, Southern Poverty Law Center senior fellow Mark Potok called Perkins’ comment “outrageous,” saying SPLC has for more than 40 years denounced violence.

“We have argued consistently that violence is no answer to problems in a democratic society, and we have strongly criticized all of those who endorse such violence, whether on the political left or the political right,” Potok said in his statement.

“The SPLC has listed the FRC as a hate group since 2010 because it has knowingly spread false and denigrating propaganda about LGBT people – not, as some claim, because it opposes same-sex marriage,” he said.

Leaders of 40 national, state, and local LGBT advocacy organizations – including the DC LGBT Center — issued a joint statement Wednesday night condemning the shooting at the FRC building and expressing support for Johnson and his family and for his full and speedy recovery.

Officials with the D.C. LGBT Center said Corkins had been working as a volunteer at the center’s front desk on weekends for about six months and there were no signs of any problems associated with his work.

“I was shocked to hear that someone who has volunteered with the DC Center could be the cause of such a tragic act of violence,” the center’s executive director, David Mariner, said in a statement.

“No matter the circumstances, we condemn such violence in the strongest terms possible,” Mariner said. “We hope for a full and speedy recovery for the victim and our thoughts are with him and his family.”

But Mariner has declined to release additional details about Corkins’ background, adding to the mystery both within the LGBT community and the community at large about who Corkins is. It could not immediately be determined whether Corkins was gay.

The FBI arrest affidavit says Corkins lived with his parents in Herndon and drove silver 2004 Dodge Neon, which is registered under the names of his parents, to the East Falls Church Metro station on the day of the shooting. The affidavit says he took the Metro to D.C. and walked from a Metro station to the Family Research Council building.

“FBI special agents interviewed Jacqueline Shenise Corkins and Floyd Lee Corkins, who stated that they are the parents of Floyd Lee Corkins II,” the affidavit says. “They also stated that Corkins has been living at [their] residence up to the present date.”

The affidavit adds, “Corkins’ parents informed the FBI special agents that Corkins has strong opinions with respect to those he believes do not treat homosexuals in a fair manner.”

News media reports have cited unnamed law enforcement sources as saying Corkins has a master’s degree. The Washington Post reported that a friend of Corkins during the time the two attended George Mason University described Corkins as “secretive and somewhat odd.”

The friend told the Post that Corkins “displayed an intense interest in the 19th century German philosopher Friedrich Nietzche.”

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Film ‘Wonderfully Made LGBTQ+R(eligion)’ set for D.C. premiere

Documentary explores challenges faced by queer Catholics

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‘Wonderfully Made LGBTQ+R(eligion)’ premieres in D.C. on Dec. 12.

A feature-length documentary film called “Wonderfully Made LGBTQ+R(eligion),” which explores how religion has played a leading role in perpetuating anti-LGBTQ attitudes and highlights the challenges and aspirations of LGBTQ Catholics, is scheduled for a special D.C. screening on Dec. 12 at the E Street Cinema.

The film’s director is gay filmmaker, actor, and LGBTQ rights advocate Yuval David. It was jointly produced by David and his husband, attorney and LGBTQ Catholic advocate Mark McDermott. The premiere D.C. showing of the film is being hosted by Real Affirmations, D.C.’s LGBTQ film festival.

“The film focuses on the Catholic Church because it is one of the largest religious organizations in the world, and because its anti-LGBTQ+ stance is known and growing more hardline, at least in some circles,” a statement announcing the D.C. showing of the film says.

“The narrative of the film is shaped by the process of a fine art project creating unprecedented, photographic iconography depicting Jesus as a member/ally of the LGBTQ+ community, represented by multiple LGBTQ+ models,” the statement says.

David and McDermott told the Washington Blade in a Nov. 21 interview that production of the film was completed at the end of August of this year, and it has since been shown at film festivals across the U.S. and overseas. It was honored as the Best Feature Film at the LGBTQ Toronto Film Festival.

“One of the things we discuss in our film and the way this makes it contemporary, and even pertaining to this horrible shooting [at the LGBTQ nightclub in Colorado] and the various other attacks on the LGBTQ community, is the fact that the vast majority of anti-LGBTQ and homophobic beliefs, including laws and legislation, are on the basis of religion,” David said.

“Ninety something percent of homophobia and anti-LGBTQ beliefs are on the basis of religion,” David said he and McDermott saw in research findings.

David and McDermott said one of their objectives for the film, which includes interviews with leading LGBTQ Catholic activists and supportive Catholic priests, was to show how images of the church and Jesus through art and iconography going back several centuries has impacted the religious views of Catholics, including LGBTQ Catholics.

Among the LGBTQ supportive people interviewed in the film include Sister Jeannine Gramick, a Catholic nun who co-founded New Ways Ministry, the LGBTQ Catholic advocacy organization; Marianne Duddy-Burke, president of Dignity USA, the national LGBTQ Catholic group; and Father James Martin, a Jesuit priest, author, and outspoken advocate for LGBTQ supportive policies in the Catholic Church.

The film also discusses the fact that the top leader of the Catholic Church, Pope Francis, has issued statements in support of LGBTQ Catholics while at the same time some if not many Catholic cardinals and bishops have continued to promote traditional church doctrine condemning homosexuality.

David and McDermott point to their film’s groundbreaking use of a form of iconography that they and their creative team, including photographers, created as part of an art project to make the church’s imagery more welcoming to LGBTQ people.

“The idea behind this is in Christianity and Catholicism, Jesus has always been portrayed one way for the last 1,700 years,” McDermott told the Blade. “That he has been portrayed as a white man of Northern European descent with blond hair and blue eyes. And as we set up the film, we wanted to challenge that history of art, change it,” he said, to show that “the divine is in all of us,” including LGBTQ people.

McDermott and David told how they conducted a casting call for actors and models to portray Jesus as LGBTQ people who were highly diverse by way of ethnicity, gender, and gender expression. To their amazement, about 500 people responded to the casting call.

“And out of that enormous group we selected nine models,” David said. “And the people we cast are truly a diverse array of LGBTQIA+ people representing different ethnicities, different races, different genders, different body types,” he said. “We wanted to cast people who not only were models but actors and people who truly identify with this topic,” David said.

Several of the actor-models are interviewed in the film, with some describing their own experiences as a person of faith in a church that is sometimes not accepting of them.

David said several thousand still photos were taken of the nine model-actors selected to portray Jesus. He said about 160 of the photo images were selected to be shown in the film in which the actor-models portray Jesus in various stages of his life as described in the scriptures, including scenes of the crucifixion.

The still photos are shown in a dramatic presentation at the conclusion of the film, with each of the model-actors exhibiting highly emotional facial expressions, especially as they are shown tied to a cross with a crown of thorns.

McDermott said he and David came up with the film’s “Wonderfully Made” title from a biblical passage known as the Book of Psalms in which the biblical figure David says while praying to God, “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made.”

Biblical scholars have said the word “fearfully” as used in that biblical passage by David was intended to mean with great reverence, heart-felt interest and with respect.

Mark McDermott and Yuval David told the Blade that while their film shows the hardship faced by LGBTQ Catholics and people of faith, many people of faith, including the religious experts they interview in the film, believe Catholicism and religion in general can be interpreted to be supportive of all people, including LGBTQ people.

But the two say a positive perspective on how religion has and continues to impact LGBTQ people, such as the story told in their film, is needed.

“Forty percent of our homeless kids are LGBTQ – 40 percent,” McDermott said. “And we know why they ended up homeless. They got thrown out of their houses by their own family,” he said. “And it’s almost always because of their family’s religious views.”

Added McDermott, “One in three LGBTQ kids in the last year contemplate or seriously think about suicide.”

According to he and David, stress or conflict with their family’s religious beliefs is very often the root cause of stress and depression among LGBTQ people. They are hopeful, they said, that their film will be seen by many facing these problems and who may be helped by the film’s strong message that it’s ok to be a person of faith and LGBTQ.

“We created this for those who must see this, so they don’t feel that way,” said David.
Tickets for the Dec. 12, 7 p.m. screening of “Wonderfully Made LGBTQ+R(eligion),” which is open to the public, can be purchased online or at the E Street Cinema at the time of the showing if tickets are still available.

A trailer preview of the film can be viewed here: wonderfullymadefilm.com; you can follow news of the film on social media, instagram.com/WonderfullyMadeMovie. Tickets can be purchased from the Reel Affirmations website and more information can be found on the Facebook event page here.

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District of Columbia

Man charged with assaulting lesbian activist pleads guilty, gets 14 months in jail

Aiyi’nah Ford hit in head with barstool at Congress Heights restaurant in August

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Lesbian activist Aiyi’nah Ford was attacked in August. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

A D.C. Superior Court judge on Nov. 17 sentenced a 46-year-old D.C. man to 14 months in jail after he pleaded guilty in September to an assault charge for an incident in which he attacked lesbian activist Aiyi’nah Ford at a restaurant on Aug. 3

An arrest affidavit filed by D.C. police on Aug. 12 states that Donnell Anthony Peterson allegedly knocked Ford to the floor at the Player’s Lounge restaurant and bar in the city’s Congress Heights neighborhood before hitting her in the head twice with the metal legs of a barstool.

Ford told the Washington Blade that Peterson, who was a regular customer at Player’s Lounge as was she, assaulted her while repeatedly calling her a “dyke bitch” after the two got into a verbal argument over, among other things, the city’s violence interruption program. Ford said she told Peterson and others who were having a discussion that she considers the program to be ineffective and a “joke.”

According to court records, witnesses reported seeing Ford bleeding profusely from the head before an ambulance took her to George Washington University Hospital, where she received multiple stitches to treat a serious head wound.

Court records show that D.C. police, who were called to the scene at the time of the assault, initially charged Peterson with Assault With a Dangerous Weapon. The records show that Peterson through his attorney agreed in September to accept a plea bargain offer by prosecutors with the Office of the U.S. Attorney for D.C.

The offer called for lowering the charge to Assault With Significant Bodily Injury in exchange for pleading guilty with a promise by prosecutors to seek a sentence of no more than 14 month in jail.

The court records show that Superior Court Judge James A. Cromwell sentenced Peterson to 32 months of incarceration but suspended 18 months, requiring that he serve 14 months after which he would be released on probation. Court records show the probation was to last 18 months. Under court rules, if someone violates the terms of their probation, which almost always prohibits them from breaking the law or threatening a person they were charged with assaulting, the released person is ordered back to jail to serve the remaining time that had been suspended.

At the time Peterson was arrested in August a spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney’s office, in response to a question from the Blade, declined to disclose why prosecutors chose not to classify Peterson’s assault against Ford as a hate crime based on her sexual orientation.

Ford told the Blade this week that the lead prosecutor, Assistant U.S. Attorney Alec Levi, was supportive of her throughout the case and told her a hate crime designation sometimes makes it more difficult to obtain a conviction if a case goes to trial. Ford said Levi told her prosecutors wanted to do all they could to bring Peterson to justice for his attack against her.

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District of Columbia

Longtime activist Lane Hudson arrested on drug charges

Homeland Security launched probe leading to August 2021 raid

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Lane Hudson was arrested last year on drug charges. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Documents filed in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia show that law enforcement officers with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Homeland Security Investigations division and the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department arrested D.C. gay activist Thomas Lane Hudson on Aug. 11, 2021, on charges of possession with the intent to distribute illegal drugs.

An affidavit filed in court says the arrest took place at Hudson’s Logan Circle area apartment after officers forcibly entered the apartment when Hudson did not respond to their knocking on the door announcing their presence with a search warrant.

The affidavit says the officers discovered and seized illegal narcotics that were field tested and weighed and which included “1,096.4 grams of a mixture and substance containing Methamphetamine, a Schedule II controlled substance; 29.5 grams of a mixture and substance containing Heroin, a Schedule I controlled substance; and 322.974 fluid ounces of a mixture and substance containing Gamma Butyrolactone (‘GBL’), a Schedule I controlled substance.”

Court records show that Hudson was held without bond until at least Aug. 25, 2021, when U.S. District Court Judge Robin M. Meriweather approved a motion filed by prosecutors to seal the case from the public record on grounds that it “contains sensitive information regarding the underlying ongoing criminal investigation.”

The Aug. 25 entry that up until then was part of the public court record announcing the decision to seal the case did not disclose any information about an underlying or ongoing investigation. It also did not disclose why federal Homeland Security investigators became involved in a drug case ordinarily handled by D.C. police.

Hudson and his attorney, who is identified in the court records as Brian Keith McDaniel, did not respond to repeated requests by the Washington Blade for comment on the case and to disclose whether they dispute the accuracy of the charges filed against Hudson.

The arrest affidavit, which was filed before the case was sealed, remains a part of the public record. It says that in addition to the allegation that illegal drugs were seized from Hudson’s apartment, the officers conducting the search found “assorted items related to distribution of controlled substances.”

Among the items found, it says, were digital scales, plastic zip bags, vacuum sealer and vacuum sealer bags, a currency counting machine, and “approximately $48,000 in United States currency.” 

Although the public court records do not show whether Hudson was released while awaiting trial or was still being held, sources who know Hudson pointed out that he resumed posting messages on social media in December of 2021 after a period when no postings from him could be found. This suggests he has been released while the case remains pending.

Hudson’s arrest came less than a year before the D.C. Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance released its 2022 D.C. LGBTQ Election Guide called Leave No One Behind, which calls for the decriminalization of possession of currently illegal drugs for personal use.

Although the GLAA document doesn’t call for decriminalizing the selling of illegal drugs, it says “evidence demonstrates criminalization has done little to curb the prevalence of drugs in our communities and is not an effective way of getting people into treatment because it stigmatizes drug users.”

Hudson is well known in the D.C. area and among LGBTQ advocates locally and nationally. He was twice elected as a delegate to the Democratic National Convention; served on Hillary Clinton’s national finance committee; and once worked for the Human Rights Campaign. 

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