On August 15, 2012 Floyd Lee Corkins II, wielding a 9mm pistol along with two magazines and 50 rounds of ammunition, entered the lobby of Family Research Council’s Washington, D.C. headquarters. Corkins shot an employee, 46-year-old Leonardo Johnson, in the left arm. While injured, Johnson assisted others who wrestled the gunman to the ground until police arrived and placed the gunman under arrest. Johnson was taken to a hospital to treat his wound.
The gunman was interviewed by the FBI. Law enforcement officials said that the suspect, 28-year-old Floyd Corkins II, a resident of nearby Herndon, Virginia, had served as a volunteer at a LGBT community center. The FBI and the Metropolitan Police Department investigated jointly “to determine motive/intent and whether a hate crime/terrorism nexus exists.” During his FBI interview Corkins was asked how he chose his target.
His response was “Southern Poverty Law lists anti-gay groups. I found them online”. Corkins appeared in court the following day and was charged with assault with intent to kill while armed and interstate transportation of a firearm and ammunition. An affidavit filed in the case stated that Corkins had told the guard “words to the effect of ‘I don’t like your politics.'”
On August 22, 2012, Corkins was indicted on three charges: two charges in the District of Columbia, possession of a handgun during a violent crime and assault with intent to kill, and interstate transportation of a firearm and ammunition, a federal charge. In January 2013, Corkins pleaded guilty to all charges. Corkins was sentenced to 25 years in prison on September 19, 2013.
On the day of the shooting, a joint statement was issued by 25 LGBT groups condemning Corkins’ actions. The National Organization for Marriage, an active campaigner against same-sex marriage, issued a statement saying “Today’s attack is the clearest sign we’ve seen that labeling pro-marriage groups as ‘hateful’ must end”.
FRC president Tony Perkins issued a public statement calling the shooting “an act of domestic terrorism” and criticizing the Southern Poverty Law Center for being “reckless in labeling organizations as hate groups because they disagree with them on public policy.” SPLC spokesman Mark Potok called Perkins’ accusation “outrageous”, and in a statement said: “The FRC and its allies on the religious right are saying, in effect, that offering legitimate and fact-based criticism in a democratic society is tantamount to suggesting that the objects of criticism should be the targets of criminal violence.”
The SPLC responded by saying the group was listed as a hate group because “it has knowingly spread false and denigrating propaganda” about lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender people.