Virginia Man Sentenced to 25 Years in Prison in Shooting of Security Guard at Family Research Council
Defendant Targeted Organization in Planned Attack
|U.S. Attorney’s Office September 19, 2013|
WASHINGTON—Floyd Lee Corkins, II, 29, was sentenced today to 25 years in prison on three felony charges, including a terrorism offense, in the August 2012 shooting of a security guard at the Family Research Council in downtown Washington, announced U.S. Attorney Ronald C. Machen, Jr.; Valerie Parlave, Assistant Director of the FBI’s Washington Field Office; and Cathy L. Lanier, Chief of the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD).
Corkins, of Herndon, Virginia, pled guilty in February 2013 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to charges of committing an act of terrorism while armed, assault with intent to kill while armed, and interstate transportation of a firearm and ammunition. The Honorable Chief Judge Richard W. Roberts sentenced him. Upon completion of his prison term, he will be placed on five years of supervised release.
Corkins has been in custody since his arrest after the August 15, 2012 shooting.
This marked the first time that a defendant has been charged with and convicted of committing an act of terrorism under a provision of the District of Columbia’s Anti-Terrorism Act of 2002 that covers criminal actions committed with the intent to “intimidate or coerce a significant portion of the civilian population of the District of Columbia or the United States.”
According to the government’s evidence, on August 15, 2012, at about 10:45 a.m., Corkins entered the office of the Family Research Council (FRC) at 801 G Street NW and encountered an unarmed security guard. Corkins retrieved a firearm from his backpack and pointed it at the security guard. The security guard charged Corkins and a struggle ensued, during which Corkins fired three shots, striking the guard in the arm. Despite the gunshot wound and Corkins’ subsequent discharges of the gun, the security guard, Leonardo Johnson, heroically succeeded in disarming the defendant and forcing him to the ground and onto his belly.
According to a statement of offense, signed by the defendant as well as the government, Corkins targeted the Family Research Council because of its views, including its advocacy against recognition of gay marriage. He entered the building with the intention of shooting and killing as many employees of the organization as he could.
“A security guard’s heroism is the only thing that prevented Floyd Corkins, II from carrying out a mass shooting intended to kill as many people as possible,” said U.S. Attorney Machen. “Our entire community is thankful to the hero who stood up to this heinous attack. Today’s 25-year prison sentence demonstrates the steep price to be paid for turning to violence to terrorize your political enemies.”
“Acts of terrorism, like the one that Mr. Corkins admitted to committing in pursuit of political aim, are horrific events that instill a sense of fear on our community,” said Assistant Director in Charge Parlave. “The FBI applauds the heroic acts of the security guard who deterred Mr. Corkins from inflicting harm on additional victims. With our law enforcement partners, the FBI will respond to, secure, and investigate scenes and bring violent actors to justice.”
“I want to commend FRC employee Leonardo Johnson for his heroism and the first responding officers for their quick assessment of the situation, which brought stability and control to the chaos,” said Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier. “As recent events have shown us, quick thinking and bravery during incidents like this can save many lives.”
According to the statement of offense, Corkins purchased a semi-automatic pistol from a store in Virginia on August 9, 2012, and picked up the weapon the following day. On the afternoon of August 13, he rehearsed his planned trip to the Family Research Council. On the night before the shooting, Corkins returned to the gun store and engaged in shooting practice.
On the morning of August 15, 2012, Corkins rode Metrorail from Virginia and into the District of Columbia, got off at the Gallery Place stop, and went to the Family Research Council. To gain access into the building, he falsely told the security guard, Mr. Johnson, that he was there for an interview as a prospective intern. Upon gaining entry, Corkins approached the receptionist desk, which Mr. Johnson was manning, intending to shoot and kill him. However, Mr. Johnson fought back and, as the two men scuffled, Corkins fired his gun three times, striking Mr. Johnson once in his left arm in the process. After Mr. Johnson subdued Corkins, Corkins stated, “It’s not about you” but about the organization’s policies. He also was heard making remarks such as, “I don’t like these people, and I don’t like what they stand for.”
In a search after the shooting, MPD officers discovered two fully loaded magazine clips in one of Corkins’ front pants pockets, as well as a Metro card and a handwritten list containing the names of the Family Research Council and three other organizations that openly identify themselves as having socially conservative agendas. A search of Corkins’ backpack turned up, among other items, a box of 50 rounds of 9mm ammunition. They also found 15 individually wrapped sandwiches that Corkins had purchased the previous day from Chick-fil-A.
Corkins later made statements to the FBI in which he said that he was a political activist and considered the Family Research Council to be a lobbying group. He also stated that he intended to kill as many people as possible and smother the Chick-fil-A sandwiches into their faces. Among other things, he said, “Chick-fil-A came out against gay marriage, so I was going to use that as a statement.”
Corkins also revealed the steps he took in planning the attack, saying that he had been thinking about perpetrating similar violence for years but never carried out an attack. Had he not been stopped at the Family Research Council, he stated, he planned to go to the second organization on the list he was carrying and wage a similar shooting there.
Mr. Johnson, who also was the building’s manager, underwent emergency surgery in which metal plates were inserted into his left arm so that shattered bones could heal. Numerous bullet fragments remain in his arms, and he was unable to work for months.
In announcing the sentence, U.S. Attorney Machen, Assistant Director in Charge Parlave, and Chief Lanier expressed their appreciation to all those who investigated the case from the FBI’s Washington Field Office and the MPD. They also commended the efforts of Assistant U.S. Attorneys Ann H. Petalas and T. Patrick Martin, of the National Security Section of the U.S. Attorney’s Office, who prosecuted the case.