Virginia Man Pleads Guilty To Charges In Shooting Of Security Guard At Family Research Council- Defendant Targeted Organization In Planned Attack-
WASHINGTON – Floyd Lee Corkins, II, 28, pled guilty today to 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, Va., pled guilty 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 Richard W. Roberts scheduled sentencing for April 29, 2013. The terrorism offense carries a statutory maximum of 30 years in prison. The assault charge carries a statutory maximum of 30 years of incarceration, and the weapons-related charge carries up to 10 years in prison.
Corkins has been in custody since his arrest after the Aug. 15, 2012 shooting.
This marks 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 Aug. 15, 2012, at about 10:45 a.m., Corkins entered the office of the Family Research Council, 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’s subsequent discharges of the gun, the security guard 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.
“Were it not for the heroic guard who tackled Floyd Corkins, he could have succeeded in perpetrating a mass killing spree in the nation’s capital,” said U.S. Attorney Machen. “This case highlights the dangers of access to high-capacity magazines that allow killers to inflict carnage on a mass scale in the blink of an eye. Today’s guilty plea makes clear that using violence to terrorize political opponents will not be tolerated.”
“Individuals such as Mr. Corkins, who commit violent acts in pursuit of political aims, are a danger to our society and to the freedoms we enjoy as citizens,” said Assistant Director in Charge Parlave. “In today’s plea, Mr. Corkins admitted to committing an act of terrorism in the District of Columbia. Together with our partner law enforcement agencies and with the assistance of the community, the FBI will pursue all those who seek to intimidate or harm U.S. citizens.”
“This was a horrible act,” said Police Chief Lanier. “Fortunately, a quick-thinking employee was able to disarm and subdue the shooting suspect. His dedication to duty and willingness to put himself in harm’s way prevented others from being seriously injured or killed. He is an inspiration to many and a hero to all that were affected.”
According to the statement of offense, Corkins purchased a semiautomatic pistol from a store in Virginia on Aug. 9, 2012, and picked up the weapon the following day. On the afternoon of Aug. 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 Aug. 15, 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 that he was there for an interview as a prospective intern. Upon gaining entry, Corkins approached the receptionist desk, which the security guard was manning, intending to shoot and kill him. However, the security guard fought back and, as the two men scuffled, Corkins fired his gun three times, striking the guard once in his left arm in the process. After the security guard 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’s 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’s backpack turned up, among other items, a box of 50 rounds of 9 mm 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.
The security guard, 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 guilty plea, 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 United States Attorney’s Office, who prosecuted the case.