Chick-Fil-A-Sandwich Shooter Identified FRC as Target Using Southern Poverty Law Center Website

Elizabeth Harrington | February 6, 2013 | 5:49pm EST
Font Size

Floyd Corkins II is taken into custody outside the Family Research Council in Washington, D.C. on Aug. 15, 2012. (AP Photo)

( – Floyd Lee Corkins II, who pleaded guilty in federal court on Wednesday to the Aug. 15 shooting at the Family Research Council (FRC), identified the FRC as a target by using the website of the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), which includes what it calls a “Hate Map” that features the FRC's Washington, D.C., headquarters.

As the court filing’s “Statement of Offense” for United States of America v. Floyd Lee Corkins II reads,  “He was a political activist and considered the FRC a lobbying group. He committed the shooting for political reasons. He had identified the FRC as an anti-gay organization on the Southern Poverty Law Center Website.” (See Floyd Lee Corkins II - Unstamped Statement of Offense.pdf)

The statement said that when Corkins was arrested he carried in his pocket a handwritten list of four organizations. "Each of the four listed organizations are nationally recognized advocacy groups that openly identify themselves as having socially conservative agendas, supporting, among other things, legislation defining "marriage" as a relationship between one man and one woman and generally against legislation that would promote gay marriage."

Although charged on 10 counts, Corkins pleaded guilty to three: act of terrorism while armed; assault with intent to kill while armed; and interstate transportation of a firearm and ammunition. (See Floyd Lee Corkins - Stamped Superseding Indictment.pdf)

He admitted to opening fire at the FRC, which is a conservative, pro-family group, and wounding the security guard there. And his actions were designated an act of terrorism, to which he also pleaded guilty.

According to the “Statement of Offense,” assault with intent to kill is an “act of terrorism,” if it is committed with the requisite intent. As it states: “On August 15, 2012, the defendant assaulted [security guard Leo] Johnson and the FRC with the intent to intimidate or coerce a significant portion of the civilian population of the District of Columbia and/or the United Sattes; namely, any and all individuals associated with or supporting the FRC, like-mided organizations, or otherwise holding beliefs contrary to or advocating against gay marriage.”

In an interview with the FBI following the shooting, as provided in the “Statement of Offense,” Corkins said that “(1) intended to enter the FRC that day to kill as many people as possible and smother Chick-fil-A sandwiches in their faces; (2) he intended to kill the guard who confronted him in the lobby (i.e., Johnson); and (3) he had taken substantial steps in the preceding week in furtherance of carrying out the crimes.” (See Floyd Lee Corkins II - Unstamped Statement of Offense.pdf)

In addition, as the statement reads, “He committed the shooting for political reasons. He had identified the FRC as an anti-gay organization on the Southern Poverty Law Center Website.”

Family Researh Council employee Leo Johnson who was shot by Floyd Corkins II but still managed to subdue the shooter on Aug. 15, 2012, in the lobby of the conservative organization's building in Washington, D.C.

It further reports, “Consistent with his statement to the FBI, a subsequent search of Corkins’ family computer revealed that on the afternoon of Sunday, August 12, Corkins used the computer to visit the Southern Poverty Law Center’s website, as well as the websites for the FRC and the second organization on his handwritten list.”

FRC President Tony Perkins said the SPLC “can no longer say that it is not a source for those bent on committing acts of violence.”

"The day after Floyd Corkins came into the FRC headquarters and opened fire wounding one of our team members, I stated that while Corkins was responsible for the shooting, he had been given a license to perpetrate this act of violence by groups like the Southern Poverty Law Center, which has systematically and recklessly labeled every organization with which they disagree as a 'hate group,’” Perkins said.

"Today both assertions were validated in court as Corkins pleaded guilty to multiple criminal charges, including terrorism,” he said.

“Only by ending its hate-labeling practices will the SPLC send a message that it no longer wishes to be a source for those who would commit acts of violence that are only designed to intimidate and silence Christians and others who support natural marriage and traditional morality,” Perkins said.

As of Wednesday, the Southern Poverty Law Center still lists the FRC as one of the 13 “hate” groups on its “Hate Map” for the Washington, D.C. area.  The FRC is described as an “Anti-Gay” group whose “specialty is defaming gays and lesbians.”

Requests for comment from the Southern Poverty Law Center were not returned before this story was posted.

Family Research Council President Tony Perkins. (AP)

Corkins could face up to 30 years in prison after pleading guilty to a federal charge of transporting a firearm across state lines and to D.C. charges of assault with intent to kill and committing an act of terrorism while armed.  His sentencing is scheduled for April 29.

The plea agreement also revealed that at the time of the shooting, Corkins was carrying a loaded Sig Sauer P229 pistol, two fully loaded magazines, a box of 50 rounds of ammunition and 15 Chick-fil-A sandwiches, intending to “kill as many as possible and smear the Chick-Fil-A sandwiches in their faces.”

Corkins said he wanted to “make a statement against the people who work in that building…with their stance against gay rights and Chick-fil-A.”

“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,” he said.

At the time, the fast food chain was thrust into the national spotlight when CEO Dan Cathy said he supported traditional marriage.  On Aug. 1, after pro-same-sex marriage groups criticized the chain by accusing it of "hate," thousands of supporters flocked to restaurants across the country on Aug. 1 for “Chick-fi-A Appreciation Day.”

Corkins also told the FBI that he “intended to kill” the guard Leo Johnson who, though unarmed and wounded, was able to subdue Corkins until police arrived.

Corkins had a handwritten list in his pocket with the addresses of four organizations that “openly identify themselves as having socially conservative agendas,” and at the scene he said, “I don’t like the organization [FRC] and what it stands for.”

For six months prior to the shooting Corkins had volunteered at the DC Center for the LGBT Community. Following the shooting, the DC Center released a statement condemning the violence, which was signed by 40 other local and national LGBT groups.

mrc merch