The man who planned a shooting spree at the headquarters of Family Research Council (FRC) in August, pleaded guilty this morning to three charges, including intent to perform an act of terrorism while armed.
On Aug. 15, Lewis Corkins, 28, gained access to FRC’s locked building by claiming he was being interviewed for an internship. In his bag, he carried 15 Chick-fil-A sandwiches, two loaded 15-round magazines, and a pistol.
His plan would have succeeded if a security guard hadn’t stopped him and requested identification. In response, Corkins pulled out his pistol and fired three shots, wounding officer Leonardo Johnson in the arm. Although wounded, Johnson managed to disarm Corkins and wrestle him to the ground.
In the midst of a national debate about firearms, some may use Corkins’ case to advocate for stricter gun control laws. But others, including FRC President Tony Perkins, say it’s an example of how inflammatory rhetoric can have dangerous consequences, including acts of violence.
Perkins specifically placed part of the blame for the shooting with The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), an organization that labels conservative organizations like FRC as “hate groups.” Corkins used SPLC’s website to find his targets. Police found a list of several organizations in his pocket when they arrested him.
"The SPLC can no longer say that it is not a source for those bent on committing acts of violence,” Perkins said in a statement issued Wednesday. “Only by ending its hate labeling practices will the SPLC send a message that it no longer wishes to be a source for those who would commit acts of violence … designed to intimidate and silence Christians and others who support natural marriage and traditional morality.”
In a plea agreement, Corkins acknowledged he planned to smear Chick-fil-A sandwiches in his victims’ faces and then kill them. He said he intended to shoot and kill as many people as possible. He also admitted, if he hadn’t been stopped, he would have gone on to target other advocacy groups that oppose gay marriage.
Corkins pleaded guilty to three charges: interstate transportation of a firearm and ammunition, assault with intent to kill while armed and an act of terrorism while armed. Sentencing guidelines recommend a maximum of 10 years on the first count and up to 15 years each on the two other counts.
The judge in the case, Richard W. Roberts, set sentencing for April 29. In the meantime, Perkins said FRC will continue its work: "Whether the SPLC continues to demonize those who hold to biblical morality or not, the Family Research Council will remain unequivocally committed to our mission of advancing faith, family and freedom.”