Gun, ammunition, Chick-fil-A? A shooting suspect's unusual profile. (+video)
The suspect in the shooting at a conservative group's office is described as a supporter of gay rights who had Chick-fil-A sandwiches in his bag. The FBI is investigating the attack as a possible hate crime.
While the FBI says it’s investigating the shooting in the lobby of a national conservative organization in Washington Wednesday as a potential hate crime, experts say the shooting suspect does not fit the typical profile of someone involved in such violence.Skip to next paragraph
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Floyd Lee Corkins, who allegedly shot a security officer after saying, “I don’t like your politics,” was characterized, in an affidavit released Thursday by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, as a strong supporter of gay rights. The shooting took place at the Family Research Council, a conservative think tank known for its opposition to gay marriage and abortion rights.
Mr. Corkins, a volunteer at a community center for gays, held “strong opinions with respect to those he believes do not treat homosexuals in a fair manner,” the FBI affidavit quoted his parents as saying.
According to the affidavit, Corkins was carrying two loaded magazines for a Sig Sauer 9mm handgun, a backpack containing 50 rounds of extra ammunition, and 15 sandwiches from Chick-fil-A, the Atlanta-based fast food chain targeted by gay rights groups after its president was quoted as saying he supported “the biblical definition of the family unit.”
Corkins was charged Thursday with assault with intent to kill while armed and with interstate transportation of a firearm and ammunition. The guard, who was shot in the arm, remains hospitalized.
“It’s pretty unusual to find a hate crime from the left end of the [political] spectrum,” says Kathleen Blee, a nationally recognized expert on extremist groups. “Most hate crimes are against vulnerable populations like religious people or minorities.”
“It’s really quite rare,” says Ms. Blee, a sociology professor at the University of Pittsburgh. “Generally, gay rights advocates are engaged in violent acts against property, but it’s very rare for a gay rights activist engaged in violence against people.”
David Mariner, executive director of a Washington community center for gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgendered people, told the local media Corkins was a volunteer there for six months.
“No matter the circumstances, we condemn such violence in the strongest terms possible,” Mr. Mariner said.
How law enforcement defines a hate crime depends on the statute in each state. In most states, Corkins’ alleged actions would not be classified as a hate crime, since the designation is reserved for victims who were singled out because of their race, color, religion, sexual orientation, national origin, gender, gender identity, or disability, and the Family Research Council is considered a political organization.
On the federal level, the Shepard Byrd Hate Crime Prevention Act of 2009 defines hate crimes as incidents related to race, color, religion or national origin of the victim.
However, according to 2011 data from the Anti-Defamation League, four states – California, Iowa, Louisiana, and West Virginia – and the District of Columbia add political affiliation to their definition of hate crimes, a designation that protects advocacy groups like the Family Research Council.