A gunman who opened fire in the offices of a family campaign group over its opposition to gay marriage was yesterday sentenced to 25 years in prison.
Floyd Lee Corkins II, 29, targeted the Family Research Council (FRC) in August last year, after it was designated a “hate group” by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC).
Corkins started shooting in the office buildings before being apprehended by an unarmed security guard, Leo Johnson, who was shot in the arm in the process of preventing further harm.
Chief Judge Richard Roberts sentenced Corkins in the US District Court for the District of Columbia after he pleaded guilty to a range of charges including armed terrorism.
Prosecutors had hoped for a 45 year jail term, while Corkins’ defence lawyers recommended a sentence of just over 11 years as the gunman was mentally ill.
Tony Perkins, President of the FRC, said they sought justice not vengeance.
He said, “Mr Corkins’ stated intention was to kill as many FRC staff as possible to send a political message, a chilling, political message”.
He added: “But for Leo’s heroic conduct and the protective hand of the Lord, this crime might have ended like the tragic shooting that occurred earlier this week here in D.C.”
He also said: “We want to distinguish between our belief that Mr Corkins should be held responsible for his action is distinct from the fact that we personally forgive Mr Corkins.”
“We are thankful he was not injured and just hours after the shooting while our staff gathered to pray for Leo, we also prayed for Mr Corkins.”
The security guard Leo Johnson talked during the sentencing about the long-lasting effects the incident has had on his life.
He said: “I have had to endure surgery, with at least two more scheduled; painful, life-threatening blood clots which developed in my right lung; gruelling physical therapy sessions; multiple medications and numerous doctors appointments as a result of this crime.”
He added: “My family was put under tremendous stress as well, as they tried to cope with the shock of what happened and the fear of not knowing whether I was even alive, let alone going to be OK.”
Corkins was carrying 50 rounds of ammunition when he entered the building.He had a list of organisations in his pocket, inspired by the SPLC list of hate groups, which had the FRC at the top.
He was also carrying 15 Chick-fil-A sandwiches that he intended to smear in the faces of his victims.
Chick-fil-A is a fast-food outlet in America which found itself at the centre of a media storm when its owner voiced opposition to gay marriage.