WASHINGTON — Prosecutors called it the “ultimate disrespect for free speech,” trying to silence those with whom you disagree by killing them.
Chief U.S. District Judge Richard W. Roberts agreed, sentencing homosexual activist Floyd Lee Corkins today to 25 years in prison for attempting a mass shooting at the headquarters of the Family Research Council in Washington, D.C.
The judge could have sentenced Corkins to as much as 45 years.
The defense argued Corkins should only get 11-and-a-half years because he was suffering from mental illness. However, the prosecution outlined to the judge how Corkins used his treatment for mental illness to clear his head in order to carefully plan his crime, step by step.
Even though he was under treatment for his chronic mental illness, Corkins was able to purchase a pistol from a Virginia gun shop the week before the shooting.
Judge Roberts said he had to take Corkins’ mental health into account, but it was clear the defendant intended to commit mass murder because he had rehearsed his crime, practiced shooting his gun and had brought 95 bullets with him on the day of the crime.
On Aug. 15, 2012, a heavily armed Corkins walked into FRC headquarters and began shooting with the intention of killing “as many people as I could.”
He managed to shoot and injure just one person, facilities manager Leo Johnson, who is credited with heroically stopping the attack.
Corkins admitted he picked FRC because the organization was listed as an “anti-gay” hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center on its website.
FRC promotes traditional Judeo-Christian beliefs about the family and homosexuality, but SPLC claims the organization’s “real specialty is defaming gays and lesbians.”
Corkins, a former volunteer at an LGBT community center, pleaded guilty to terrorism.
FRC President Tony Perkins told WND he is satisfied with the verdict because “it sends a message this is unaccecptable.”
Perkins told the court that if not for Johnson’s heroics the incident could’ve been “another Navy Yard”, referring to the shootings that killed a dozen people in Washington, D.C. on Monday.
A video shows Corkins entered the building and approached Johnson, then leaned over to place his backpack on the floor. When he straightened up, Corkins pointed a semi-automatic handgun directly at Johnson and fired. Despite being wounded in the arm, Johnson was able to subdue Corkins after a brief struggle.
Prosecutors said Johnson saved his own life, and probably many others, only because he immediately sensed something was wrong with Corkins. That hunch caused Johnson to get up from behind his desk, putting him in position to tackle the shooter soon after he drew his gun.
Prosecutors said Johnson has endured a long and slow recovery, including surgery on his arm, which will never be fully functioning again, and treatment for blood clots.
When WND asked Johnson if he was satisfied with the verdict, he said he would withhold comment for the time being.
In addressing Corkins during his victim impact statement, Johnson said, “I forgive you but I do not forget.”
Johnson also told his shooter, “If you believe in God you should pray to him everyday because not only did God save my life that day, he saved yours too.”
Johnson was armed with a gun the day of the attack but told the court God told him not to shoot.
Corkins fingered the SPLC as his inspiration during an interview with the FBI.
Asked how he picked the FRC to attack, Corkins stated, “It was a, uh, Southern Poverty Law, lists, uh, anti-gay groups. I found them online. I did a little bit of research, went to the website, stuff like that.”
He said he spotted the FRC on the SPLC’s “hate map.”
The FBI interview with Corkins included this exchange:
FBI: “What was your intention … You’re … a political activist you said?”
Corkins: “Yeah, I wanted to kill the people in the building and then smear a Chicken-fil-A sandwich on their face.”
FBI: “And you, what was your intention when you went in there with the gun?”
Corkins: “Uh, it was to kill as many people as I could.”
At the time of the shooting, Chick-fil-A was in the headlines because of its president's opposition to gay marriage.
The SPLC still lists the FRC as a 'hate group' on its 'hate map.'
Retired Lt. Gen. William G. “Jerry” Boykin, FRC executive vice president and a member of the board of WND.com, wants the U.S. government and its agencies to stop working with SPLC and citing its work.
But Boykin said his group has never appealed to the SPLC to take them off it's hate map because they don’t think it is legitimate.
The general called the map capricious and noted it has no definition of a hate group.
“More importantly, we think what they’re doing is absolutely reckless, particularly given they put us in the same category as groups like the Klu Klux Klan and the skinheads.”
Pressure has to be put on the SPLC to stop this, because, Boykin said, “It is reckless behavior that has, at least in this case, incited someone to want to kill people who don’t believe what they believe and stand for.”