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Accused Family Research Council shooter pleads not guilty
Question of the Day
A man accused of shooting a security guard at the Washington headquarters of a conservative lobbying group pleaded not guilty Friday to assault and handgun charges.
Floyd Lee Corkins II, 28, of Herndon, Va., faces the possibility of decades in prison if convicted in last week's attack inside the lobby of the Family Research Council. According to court documents, Mr. Corkins told the guard he didn't like the group's politics before opening fire with a semiautomatic handgun. Mr. Corkins was carrying dozens of rounds of ammunition and 15 Chick-fil-A sandwiches, according to the documents.
Mr. Corkins pleaded not guilty at an arraignment Friday afternoon. He also waived the right to a detention hearing, which meant that prosecutors did not have to present evidence to support his continued detention. He will be held without bond until his court appearance, which has not been scheduled but will likely occur before Oct 1.
Magistrate Judge Alan Kay also ruled during the hearing that Mr. Corkins was competent to understand the court proceedings and assist in his defense. Mr. Corkins underwent a psychiatric evaluation this week.
Mr. Corkins' public defender declined to comment after the brief hearing. Mr. Corkins wore an orange jumpsuit and spoke only in response to questions from the judge. He did not appear to have any friends or relatives in the courtroom.
The FRC strongly defended Chick-fil-A after the fast-food chain's president voiced his opposition to same-sex marriage. Mr. Corkins' parents told investigators that he strongly supported gay rights, according to the documents. He had volunteered at a community center for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, although he was not well-known in Washington's gay community.
The Southern Poverty Law Center has labeled the FRC as a hate group, saying that it has spread false propaganda against gays. Mr. Corkins was also carrying the contact information for another conservative group, the Traditional Values Coalition, according to that group's president, who said she got that information from federal investigators.
The wounded man, Leo Johnson, has been released from the hospital, the FRC said in a statement Friday. Mr. Johnson is the building manager for the FRC's headquarters. While he was performing security duties at the time of the shooting, he was not armed and not in uniform. He helped subdue the gunman after being shot in the arm, and the city police chief praised him for stopping an attack that could have turned deadly.
"My condition continues to improve although it appears another surgery will be needed," Mr. Johnson said in a statement released by the FRC. "I want to thank everyone for the support and prayers during my recovery."
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