US: Family Research Council shooter pleads guilty to three charges
The shooter in an incident at the Family Research Council in August pleaded guilty to three charges, and admitted buying over a dozen Chick-fil-A sandwiches to smear on the faces of his victims.
Floyd Corkins said he intended to intimidate those opposed to equal rights for LGBT people, and bought fifteen chicken sandwiches to scatter at the scene in order to make a “statement” about Chick-fil-A’s apparent opposition to equal marriage.
“They endorse Chick-fil-A and also Chick-fil-A came out against gay marriage, so I was going to use that as a statement,” prosecutors said Corkins had told investigators.
Corkins, 28, pleaded guilty to committing an act of terrorism while armed, interstate transportation of a firearm and ammunition, and assault with intent to kill while armed, reports KSAT. Seven other charges were dropped by the prosecution.
Corkins could seventy years in prison for the shooting, but this may be shortened as he has no prior record. He will be sentenced on 29 April, prosecutors said.
He had once volunteered at Washington’s gay community centre and is said to have been enraged at FRC’s lobbying efforts against LGBT equality.
Corkins, 28, was arrested at FRC’s office which he gained access to by posing as an intern. Building manager, Leo Johnson, was shot in the arm but survived the attack.
After being restrained, Corkins said something to the effect, “‘It’s not about you.’ It’s about the FRC and its policies,” the prosecution said.
According to the documents, for years Corkins had considered such an attack, but “just never went through with it.”
He had also intended to continue his attack, if he had been successful and escaped after the shooting, the court heard.
The FRC had been a staunch defender of the fast-food outlet after Chick-fil-A’s president announced his opposition to marriage equality last summer.
Corkins had reportedly decided on the FRC as his target when he read that it was an anti-gay group on the Southern Poverty Law Center’s (SPLC) website.
A spokeswoman for the SPLC declined to comment on the plea deal or the research council’s comments, but referred to a statement from the organization last year, standing by its designation of the Family Research Council as a “hate group.”
The statement read: “As people who care about human dignity, we have a moral obligation to call out the FRC for its demonizing lies and incendiary rhetoric about the LGBT community,
“The fact that we list the FRC as a hate group because of its demonizing propaganda does not make us the hateful one. Spreading demonizing lies is what is dangerous, not exposing them.”
On his nightly radio show on Wednesday, FRC President Tony Perkins mentioned the plea deal and accused the Southern Poverty Law Center of playing a role in the shooting by inciting hatred and violence. He had made this claim repeatedly since the incident.
“The Southern Poverty Law Center is dangerous. They are inciting hatred, and in this case a clear connection to violence,” he said.
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“They need to be held accountable, and they need to be stopped before people are killed because of their reckless labeling and advocacy for homosexuality and their anti-Christian stance.”