The Virginia man who planned a mass shooting based on a leftwing group’s “hate map” of conservatives got sentenced to 25 years in prisontoday, though federal prosecutors had recommended 45 for what they call an act of terrorism.
Floyd Lee Corkins stormed into the headquarters of the Family Research Council (FRC) last August and carried out the politically-motivated shooting based on a target list from the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), a nonprofit that features conservative organizations on a catalogue of “hate groups.” Corkins pleaded guilty earlier this year and admitted that he learned about the FRC from the SPLC, a civil rights group that labels conservatives who disagree with it on social issues hateful.
In fact, the SPLC’s website features a map of the United States that helps locate what it labels as hate groups around the nation. When an area of the map is clicked, a list appears with the name and location of hate groups. There’s also a “select a state” box where you can simply write in the state and hate groups appear for that particular area.
The FRC, a Christian organization that promotes the traditional family unit and the Judeo- Christian value system, appears on that hate map under Washington D.C. In mid-August of last year Corkins stormed into the group’s D.C. headquarters with the intention of killing as many employees as possible, according to a news report that cites legal documents. He had purchased a semiautomatic pistol from a Virginia store the day before the rampage.
Corkins shot Leo Johnson, an unarmed security guard, but Johnson was able to subdue Corkins after a struggle that left the guard with a bullet in one arm. Corkins pleaded guilty to charges of committing an act of terrorism while armed, assault with intent to kill and interstate transportation of a firearm and ammunition. He is the first to be convicted under D.C.’s Anti-Terrorism Act of 2002, which prosecutes crimes committed to “intimidate or coerce a significant population of the District of Columbia or the United States.”
Corkins explained to authorities that he attacked the FRC because the SPLC identified it as a hate group. “I found them online, did a little research, went to the website, stuff like that,” he tells authorities in the chilling interrogation video which is posted on the FRC’s website. “The SPLC’s reckless labeling has led to devastating consequences,” FRC President Tony Perkins said at the time. “Because of its ‘hate group’ labeling, a deadly terrorist had a guidemap to FRC and other organizations.”
Perkins and Johnson delivered emotional testimony at today’s sentencing hearing in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. “The attack at our headquarters did not just harm Leo,” Perkins told the judge. “As the Court knows, Mr. Corkins’ stated intention was to kill as many FRC staff as possible to send a political message, a chilling, political message. 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.”
Johnson told the judge about the long term effects of getting shot and how he’s suffered, both physically and psychologically, as a result of the crime. “I have had to endure surgery, with at least two more scheduled; painful, life-threatening blood clots which developed in my right lung; grueling physical therapy sessions; multiple medications and numerous doctors’ appointments as a result of this crime,” Johnson said.
Following the shooting Judicial Watch launched an investigation into what influence the SPLC’s branding of hate groups has had on U.S. government agencies. In January JW obtained nearly 24 pages of emails from U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) Civil Rights and Tax divisions revealing questionable behavior by agency personnel while negotiating for SPLC’s co-founder Morris Dees to appear as the featured speaker at a July 31, 2012, “Diversity Training Event.”