On Wednesday, a lone gunman walked into the Family Research Council building in downtown Washington, D.C. to perform what could’ve been a mass shooting, but before he could get any further in the building he was stopped by a security guard. As a result the guard was shot in the arm, but no one was killed.
Details about the incident are still emerging, but it appears from numerous reports that the shooter, who has been identified as 28-year-old Floyd Lee Corkins, targeted the conservative advocacy center because of its political ideologies.
Sources told WJLA-TV/ABC7 that just prior to shooting the guard, the suspect said, “It’s not about you, it’s about the policy.”
Founded in 1983 by James Dobson, the Family Research Council is a “Christian organization promoting the traditional family unit and the Judeo-Christian value system upon which it is built.” The FRC is a vocal opponent to abortion and gay marriage.
Corkins was a volunteer at a local community center that caters to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. He often worked at the center’s front desk during the weekends, according to David Mariner, the executive director of the community center.
“He always struck me as a kind, gentle and unassuming young man,” Mariner told reporters. “I’m very surprised that he could be involved in something like this.”
At around 10:45 a.m., authorities say Corkins walked into the FRC offices carrying a backpack, which contained a 9mm Sig Sauer handgun (legally purchased in Virginia), 50 rounds of ammunition, with “two loaded 15-round ammo clips” and 15 Chick-fil-A sandwiches.
The Chick-fil-A sandwiches may have relevance in that the CEO of the fast food chain had recently expressed his support for traditional marriage, sparking a national debate on the issues of gay marriage and corporate outspokenness.
When Corkins entered the building, he was stopped by a security guard; who inquired about where he was headed, according to WRC-TV. Corkins told the guard he was an intern but when the guard asked him what was in the pack, Corkins pulled his gun and fired at least one round, hitting the guard in the arm.
While it’s not clear whether there was a physical confrontation prior to the shooting, Police are calling the security guard a “hero” for his decisive actions.
“The security guard here is a hero, as far as I¹m concerned,” D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier told the Examiner. “He did his job. The person never made it past the front.”
As of Wednesday, authorities were still investigating the incident to determine if the shooting was an act of domestic terrorism. Until the gunman’s motives are clearly established, authorities will avoid classifying the incident.
“We don’t know enough about him or his circumstances to determine what his connection is to this group [the research council] or his mental state, or what he was doing or thinking of doing,” James McJunkin, the head of the FBI’s Washington Field Office, said Wednesday. “So we’re going to try to sort this all out, pull the evidence together, do all the interviews we can.”
Corkins, who is now in custody, has been charged with assault with a deadly weapon.
* Under current United States law, set forth in the USA PATRIOT Act, acts of domestic terrorism are those which: “(A) involve acts dangerous to human life that are a violation of the criminal laws of the United States or of any State; (B) appear to be intended— (i) to intimidate or coerce a civilian population; (ii) to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or (iii) to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping; and (C) occur primarily within the territorial jurisdiction of the United States.”
From the evidence presented thus far, should this shooting be viewed as an act of domestic terrorism?
(Picture Credit: Getty Images)