Man pleads guilty to Family Research Council shooting

Posted at 12:34 PM, Feb 06, 2013

Floyd Lee Corkins Mug Shot

By Carol Cratty, CNN Senior Producer

(CNN) — Floyd Corkins has pleaded guilty to shooting a Family Research Council employee in August, telling a federal judge Wednesday that he wanted to intimidate gay rights opponents.

Corkins, 28, pleaded guilty to three charges related to the shooting at the conservative policy group’s Washington headquarters, including committing an act of terrorism, interstate transportation of a firearm and ammunition, and assault with intent to kill while armed.

In exchange, prosecutors dropped seven other charges.

It’s unclear whether the plea deal will reduce the 70 years in prison that he’s facing for those three charges.

Immediately after the shooting, Corkins was arrested at the office where the building manager, Leo Johnson, was shot in the arm.

It had been expected that Corkins would enter a plea deal. At a December 3 hearing, prosecutors proposed that Corkins plead guilty to the three charges, although his attorney David Bos had expressed concern about the offer at the time.

The act of terrorism charge alleges that Corkins wanted to kill Johnson and other Family Research Council employees “with the intent to intimidate and coerce a significant portion of the civilian population of the District of Columbia and the United States.” It’s a District of Columbia law that was passed in 2002 but has never been used before.

Despite those concerns, Corkins’ attorney filed a motion in early January asking for a short delay in the case “to allow the parties to complete plea negotiations,” and prosecutors agreed to the delay.

According to the FBI’s affidavit, Corkins walked into the Family Research Council on August 15, encountered the building manager and said words to the effect of, “I don’t like your politics.”

Corkins allegedly reached into his backpack and pulled out a 9 mm handgun and fired at Johnson, who was handling security at the building’s entrance. According to the document, security camera footage captured the shooting and showed Johnson tackling his attacker and taking away his gun.

According to the affidavit, police officers found a box of ammunition with 50 rounds in Corkins’ backpack along with 15 sandwiches from Chick-fil-A. In the document, FBI Special Agent Garrett Nabors noted that a senior executive of the restaurant chain had recently announced his opposition to same-sex marriage.

The Family Research Council is a Christian group that focuses on family, anti-abortion and religious liberty issues. It also views homosexuality as harmful.

At the time of the shooting, Corkins was living with his parents in Herndon, Virginia, and volunteering at a Washington center for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.

The August affidavit says investigators interviewed Corkins’ parents after the shooting, and they said their son “has strong opinions with respect to those he believes do not treat homosexuals in a fair manner.”

CNN’s Paul Courson contributed to this report.