Sentencing Delayed in Family Research Council Shooting
A U.S. District Court judge rescheduled the sentencing of Floyd Lee Corkins II, the Virginia man who pleaded guilty in February of attempting to commit a mass shooting at the Washington headquarters of the Family Research Council (FRC), a conservative Christian organization and lobbying group.
Corkins, of Herndon, Va., pleaded guilty to committing an act of terrorism while armed, assault with intent to kill while armed, and interstate transportation of a firearm and ammunition for the shooting attempt, during which he injured security guard Leonardo Reno ’’Leo’’ Johnson of Washington. Corkins is the first defendant to be charged and convicted under the District of Columbia’s Anti-Terrorism Act of 2002, which prosecutes actions committed with the intent to ’’intimidate or coerce a significant population of the District of Columbia or the United States.’’
Corkins remains held without bond as he awaits sentencing, which has been rescheduled to July 15.
At Monday’s status hearing at the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, Judge Richard Roberts heard a motion from Corkins’s defense attorney, David Bos, calling for an order that would authorize the probation office to release records related to Corkins’s mental health by May 2. According to a sentencing memorandum submitted by the government April 19, Corkins has been receiving ongoing mental health treatment, which includes prescription medications and periodic counseling sessions.
’’Although the defendant appears to suffer from bouts of severe depression and unidentified ’psychosis,’ there is absolutely nothing to indicate that the defendant did not fully comprehend what he was planning and sought to accomplish in the shooting perpetrated at the FRC,’’ prosecutors argued in the sentencing memorandum. ’’Instead, the detailed nature of his planning and execution reveal the deliberate and clear-headed manner in which the defendant acted in this case.’’
Corkins, who briefly served as a volunteer receptionist at The DC Center, the city’s LGBT community center, purchased a semiautomatic pistol that he later converted from a 22-caliber pistol into a 9-millimeter firearm, and planned his trip to FRC headquarters.
On Aug. 15, Corkins entered the Family Research Council headquarters, posing as a prospective intern. He then pulled the pistol from his backpack and pointed it at Johnson, the security guard. Johnson charged Corkins and the two struggled as Corkins fired three shots, striking Johnson in the arm. Johnson eventually subdued Corkins and handed him over to law enforcement. For his actions in protecting the FRC staff, Mayor Vincent Gray (D) awarded Johnson with the inaugural Mayor’s Medal of Honor at an Oct. 22, 2012, ceremony.
Police later discovered two fully loaded magazine clips, 50 rounds of ammunition, a handwritten list of anti-gay organizations, including FRC, and 15 wrapped Chick-fil-A sandwiches on Corkins’s person or in his backpack. Corkins later told investigators he was an activist and had planned to ’’kill as many people as I could’’ and smear the Chick-fil-A sandwiches on their faces afterward. Chick-fil-A has received attention for supporting anti-gay organizations through an affiliated foundation.
Corkins told investigators he identified FRC as an anti-gay organization from a list of ’’hate groups’’ on the website of the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC).
Corkins’s April 29 status hearing followed the FRC posting two videos last week on YouTube, one showing footage of Corkins shooting and struggling with Johnson; and another showing FBI investigators questioning Corkins, in which Corkins mentions SPLC. Following the release of the videos last week, as it had in August following the shooting, FRC singled out the SPLC as being ’’connected’’ to the Corkins case due to the organization’s categorizing of the FRC as a hate group.
When FRC first initially linked SPLC to the shooting, SPLC President Richard Cohen responded in a Sept. 13, 2012, post on the SPLC website.
’’Contrary to what the FRC has repeatedly claimed, we do not list the FRC as a hate group because of its opposition to gay marriage or because of its religious beliefs,’’ Cohen wrote. ’’Instead, we list the FRC because it engages in baseless, incendiary name-calling and spreads demonizing lies about the LGBT community.’’