August 24, 2012 at 6:57 pm EDT | by Lou Chibbaro Jr.
FRC shooting suspect found mentally competent
FBI unit at Family Research Council headquarters, gay news, Washington Blade

Floyd Lee Corkins II, 28, a former part-time volunteer for D.C.’s LGBT community center, pleaded not-guilty to charges related to the shooting last week at the Family Research Council. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Floyd Lee Corkins II, 28, a former part-time volunteer for D.C.’s LGBT community center, pleaded not guilty in federal court on Friday to three charges related to last week’s shooting at the downtown D.C. headquarters of the Family Research Council, one of the nation’s leading anti-gay groups.

The not-guilty plea came after Corkins’ attorney disclosed at an arraignment in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia that a psychiatric evaluation conducted within the past week found Corkins competent to stand trial.

A spokesperson for the United States Attorney’s office, which is prosecuting the case, said the psychiatric evaluation, other than its finding that Corkins is compentent to stand trial, would not be publicly released.

Wearing an orange prison jump suit, Corkins replied by saying “yes” when asked by Judge Magistrate Alan Kay if he understood that a federal grand jury on Wednesday indicted him on three charges related to the government’s allegation that he shot a security guard in the arm on Aug. 15 after entering the lobby of the Family Research Council building at 801 G Street, N.W.

Defense attorney David Bos told Kay that Corkins would waive his right to both a preliminary and detention hearing, eliminating the need for prosecutors to present evidence in court to show probable cause that Corkins committed the shooting and would be a danger to the community if released from custody.

Kay, who then converted Friday’s court proceeding into an arraignment, ordered Corkins held in jail pending a status hearing Kay scheduled for Oct. 1. Corkins has been in custody since the time he was apprehended on Aug. 15.

Kay also announced that U.S. District Court Judge Richard Roberts would take over the case following Friday’s arraignment.

Corkins’ decision to waive the preliminary and detention hearings made it unnecessary for prosecutors to present evidence at this time about Corkins’ motives and information about his background, continuing the mystery surrounding the Herndon, Va., resident.

The Grand Jury indictment came one week after D.C. police and FBI agents apprehended Corkins minutes after he allegedly walked into the lobby of the FRC building and told FRC security officer Leo Johnson “I don’t like your politics” before firing a handgun and hitting Johnson in the arm, according to an arrest affidavit filed in court.

Johnson and other security officials wrestled the gun away from him and subdued him, the affidavit says. Johnson is expected to fully recover from his injury related to the shooting.

D.C. police and FBI officials said the discovery of 50 rounds of ammunition and 15 Chick-fil-A sandwiches in a backpack Corkins brought to the FRC building led them to believe he may have planned a mass killing if Johnson had not prevented him from gaining access to the FRC offices.

Leaders of more than 40 national, state, and local LGBT organizations issued a joint statement denouncing the shooting incident at the FRC building.

The grand jury indictment charges Corkins with the federal offense of interstate transportation of a fire arm and ammunition and with the D.C. offenses of assault with intent to kill while armed and possession of a firearm during a crime of violence.

The federal charge could lead to a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison. The charge of assault with intent to kill while arm carries a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in prison and a maximum sentence of 30 years. The charge of possession of a firearm during a crime of violence calls for a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in jail and a maximum sentence of 15 years.

Officials with D.C.’s LGBT community center said they were shocked over the news of Corkins’ involvement in the FRC shooting incident. Center director David Mariner said Corkins showed no signs of causing problems during the six months or so he worked, mostly on weekends, as a volunteer front desk clerk at the center’s offices.

A spokesperson for George Mason University in Virginia said Corkins studied philosophy as an undergraduate student between 2005 and 2007 before he stopped taking courses at the university.

LGBT activists in D.C. have told the press they did not know Corkins and don’t recall seeing him at LGBT related events or meetings other than his volunteer work at the center. It could not be determined whether Corkins is gay.

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

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