A security guard working for the conservative Christian Family Research Council is being hailed as a hero after he stopped a gunman trying to gain access to the organization's Washington, D.C., headquarters on August 15. The guard, identified as Leo Johnson, was shot by 28-year-old Floyd Corkins after the gunman entered FRC's lobby and began making statements opposing the group's policies. Law enforcement officials said Corkins' intent apparently was to gain access to FRC's upstairs offices, where the results could well have turned deadly.
After being shot, Johnson helped subdue and disarm Corkins, witnesses said. “I would say in this case, the security officer here is a hero, as far as I'm concerned,” said Washington, D.C., Police Chief Cathy Lanier. “He did his job. I mean, the person never made it farther than the front door.”
Witnesses reported that after being subdued Corkins told Johnson: “Don't shoot me. It was not about you; it was what this place stands for.”
Corkins, who was taken into FBI custody, was a volunteer at a Washington community center catering to homosexuals, CBN News reported. In addition to a 9mm handgun, he was reportedly carrying a Chick-fil-A bag. That restaurant chain has been in the news over the past several weeks over comments its president, Dan Cathy, made in support of Christian values and traditional marriage.
The Christian Post reported that FRC president Tony Perkins was with Johnson at the hospital after the shooting, and told the guard that his actions likely saved the lives of his colleagues and others. “When I told him his actions were heroic in protecting his colleagues, he told me that he just reacted in the way he thought anyone at FRC would have responded,” said Perkins. “We are very grateful for the outpouring of prayers from literally around the world." Perkins added that Johnson was in surgery until shortly before midnight and “the surgery went well.” Johnson is expected to make a full recovery.
According to the Christian Post, an individual with close ties to FRC said that Corkins came to the door of the group's headquarters, and was buzzed in by Johnson, who was sitting behind a desk in the lobby. Corkins, whom Johnson may have mistaken for an FRC intern, was apparently holding a Chick-fil-A bag, and when Johnson inquired about what was in the bag, Corkins showed his weapon and began firing, hitting Johnson in the arm. “At that time Johnson came from behind the desk and took the gun away from Corkins and subdued him until the police arrived,” reported the Post.
Other pro-family leaders and groups quickly reacted to the violence, pointing out that many conservative leaders have been anticipating such attacks in response to their firm stand against same-sex marriage. “This has got to be a wake-up call to everybody in the conservative movement,” said Dan Gainor of the Media Research Center. “If it turns out early reports are accurate and this individual did this based on politics, it's not that it's new. It's the culmination of years of leftie demonization of conservative groups.”
Brian Brown of the National Organization for Marriage noted that groups like his and the FRC have been labeled “hate groups” for years by homosexual activists. “Today's attack is the clearest sign we've seen that labeling pro-marriage groups as 'hateful' must end,” Brown said, adding that “such harmful and dangerous labels deserve no place in our civil society.” Brown called on homosexual groups and activists to “withdraw such incendiary rhetoric from a debate that involves millions of good Americans.”
On August 10 in a Huffington Post editorial, homosexual activist Shane Windmeyer of the group Campus Pride spouted such rhetoric, accusing Chick-fil-A of funding groups that “proudly and aggressively work against the rights of LGBT people, advocating their criminalization, psychological abuse, and death.”
Jim Daly of Focus on the Family, one of the groups to which Windmeyer was referring, said that it was “chilling” to think that the FRC was targeted because of its biblical views on social policy issues. “No person or group of any ideological stripe — left, right, or center — should have to fear physical violence for passionately articulating and acting on their deeply held convictions in the realm of public policy,” he said. “That is the very definition of terrorism.”
Writing on National Review's website, Gina R. Dalfonzo noted that after the shooting, left-leaning Tweeters and bloggers attempted to pin the blame for the attack on the FRC and its “hateful” rhetoric. For example, a tweeter who identified himself ironically as #NOH8 wrote that a “shooting at #FRC HQ was a long time coming … Hate begets hate.” And in “a lovely display of sanctimony," wrote Dalfonzo, another individual wrote: “Dear FRC: my thoughts are with you. Just don’t say the things you do about your fellow Americans and expect not to be called a hate group.”
Dalfonzo noted that the “narrative that has emerged among certain members of the Left” concerning the shooting “goes something like this: When a right-winger shoots a left-winger, the right wing is at fault. And when a left-winger shoots a right-winger, the right wing is also at fault, because people with their views are just asking for it.”
Dalfonzo advised that, whether one tags himself as conservative or liberal, we “have to be honest when talking about the motives of any given criminal. There’s no point in trying to hide or ignore them. But can’t we also be honest about the fact that on both sides of the aisle, violence tends to come only from the marginalized and deranged? Pinning the blame for a crime on an entire mainstream movement or belief system is a highly dangerous exercise.”
She added that the heroism of Leo Johnson, whom she knew from her years on staff at FRC, is a quality that everyone, regardless of their opinion on such issues as marriage and homosexuality, can applaud. “He showed the very best of human nature when he helped tackle his shooter to the ground, saving who knows how many lives,” she wrote. “His inspiring example is what everyone should be focusing on right now; heaven knows we’d all be better for it. Thank you, Leo, and God bless you.”
Photo of police and FBI agents outside Family Research Council headquarters in Washington, D.C., after the shooting: AP Images