Conservative Christian Group: DC Gunman May Have Targeted it, too
WASHINGTON (AP) - The head of a second Christian conservative organization said Friday she was told by authorities that a note containing her group’s contact information was found in the pocket of a man charged with opening fire at the Washington offices of another such group, wounding a security guard.
Traditional Values Coalition President Andrea Lafferty said FBI agents visited her group’s Capitol Hill offices hours after the Wednesday morning shooting as part of their investigation. The next day, she said, members of the Joint Terrorism Task Force came by and confirmed that "our information was in his pocket," including the location of the group’s offices.
"I was stunned," Lafferty told The Associated Press, adding that she believes her group may have been targeted.
It wasn’t immediately clear if that was the case.
An FBI representative could not be immediately reached for comment late Friday.
The accused shooter, Floyd Lee Corkins II, of Herndon, Va., was ordered held without bond Thursday on accusations he opened fire in the lobby of the Family Research Council in downtown Washington.
Corkins, whose parents said he strongly supported gay rights, had a backpack full of Chick-fil-A sandwiches and a box of ammunition when he said words to the effect of "I don’t like your politics" and shot a security guard, authorities said.
The guard was shot in the left arm but nonetheless managed to help take down the gunman, preventing what the police said could have been a deadly attack.
It wasn’t immediately clear why Corkins, 28, had the chicken sandwiches.
Like the FRC, the Traditional Values Coalition has supported the president of Chick-Fil-A and his staunch opposition to same-sex marriage.
Tony Perkins, who heads the Family Research Council, hinted Thursday at a news conference that the FRC was not the only group targeted, although he did not elaborate.
"Maybe, going forward, you may find out more information that we may not have been the only one," he said.
While blaming Corkins for the shooting, Perkins also faulted the Southern Poverty Law Center, an Alabama-based civil rights organization that tracks and litigates against hate groups. On its website, the law center labels both Washington conservative organizations as "active anti-gay groups."
Lafferty also was critical of the law center. "We have been on their hit list longer than any other group," she said.
Mark Potok, a senior fellow at the SPLC, had called Perkins’ accusation "outrageous." He said the council earned the designation for spreading false propaganda about the gay community, not for its opposition to same-sex marriage.
Lafferty said she has written Attorney General Eric Holder seeking protection for her group, but that authorities have not been responsive.
"Under this Justice Department, Christians are a very low priority on their lists of concerns," she said
Corkins had recently been volunteering at a D.C. community center for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. He lived with his parents in northern Virginia.
Prosecutors requested a mental health evaluation, and Corkins’ public defender did not address the allegations in court.
Corkins faces charges of assault with intent to kill and bringing firearms across state. The judge ordered him held pending a hearing next week.