-- Catholic News Agency
Family Research Council Shooting Suspect Charged With Terrorism
WASHINGTON D.C., October 26 (CNA/EWTN News) .- A federal grand jury indicted a 28-year-old Virginia man for "committing an act of terrorism" in connection with the shooting of a security guard at the Family Research Council in Washington, D.C., this summer.
Tony Perkins, president of Family Research Council, said the indictment "makes clear that acts of violence designed to intimidate and silence those who support natural marriage and traditional morality violate the law and undermine the security and stability of our form of government."
He noted that the Oct. 24 decision was the first indictment under Washington, D.C.'s anti-terrorism statute, which was put in place 10 years ago and carries a penalty of up to 30 years in prison.
On the morning of Aug. 15, Floyd Lee Corkins II of Herndon, Va., walked into the D.C. headquarters of the Family Research Council and made a statement about disliking the group's politics before opening fire, according to police.
Operations manager and security guard Leo Johnson was shot by the gunman before disarming him and wrestling him to the ground with the help of coworkers. Authorities say Johnson's actions may have prevented a mass shooting.
A local gay and lesbian community center confirmed that Corkins had been volunteering there for several months before the attack.
In the days after the attack, it was noted that the Family Research Council had once received a donation from the Atlanta-based fast food chain Chick-fil-A, whose president drew media attention when he stated his support for the biblical view of marriage.
Reports indicated that Corkins was carrying 15 Chick-fil-A sandwiches, along with a 9mm handgun and 50 rounds of ammunition, when he entered the building.
In addition, the Southern Poverty Law Center - a gay and civil rights advocacy group - designated the Family Research Council as a "hate group" for its views on marriage.
Perkins has criticized this designation, arguing that it is a form of intimidation that discourages the important discussions that are an important part of a democratic society.
Hostile labels like those used by the center could contribute to those who are "imbalanced" feeling justified in trying to kill those who hold differing beliefs, he added.
In an Oct. 24 statement after Corkins' indictment, Perkins renewed his call for "the Southern Poverty Law Center to stop its reckless practice of labeling organizations that oppose their promotion of homosexuality."
In addition to the terrorism charge, Corkins is also being charged with aggravated assault while armed, attempted murder while armed, second-degree burglary while armed and possession of a firearm during a violent crime.
"The Family Research Council and our supporters understand the essential nature of our First Freedoms of religion and speech in the survival of our constitutional republic," Perkins said.
He emphasized that the organization remains "unequivocally committed to our mission of advancing faith, family and freedom."
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