The man who has been extolled as a “hero” after putting a stop to what could have been a much worse tragedy at the Washington D.C.-based Family Research Council (FRC), has been released from hospital. Leo Johnson was shot in the arm August 15 shortly around 10 am, after confronting a gunman who allegedly walked into FRC’s building, expressed disagreement with the organization’s politics, and opened fire. Despite being shot, Leo was able to subdue the shooter and call for help.
“I am thankfully now out of the hospital,” Johnson said in a statement August 24, adding that while his condition “continues to improve,” he will likely need another surgery. “I want to thank everyone for the support and prayers during my recovery,” Johnson wrote. “I thank the media for their interest but ask for their understanding of my family’s desire for privacy as I focus on getting better.”
The alleged gunman, Virginia resident Floyd Lee Corkins II, appeared in court the same day, where he pleaded “not guilty.” He was found mentally competent to stand trial.
Corkins will be held without bond until his next court appearance on Oct. 1. He is charged with assault with intent to kill while armed, possession of a firearm during a crime of violence, and interstate transportation of a firearm and ammunition.
Corkins, who had been volunteering for the past six months at the D.C. Center for LGBT Community, is said to have been carrying dozens of rounds of ammunition, as well as 15 Chick-fil-A sandwiches, when he was apprehended.
Chick-fil-A is a prominent donor to Family Research Council, a conservative organization that supports traditional marriage and opposes abortion and embryonic stem cell research. Earlier this summer, Chick-fil-A president Dan Cathy came under fire from left-wing groups for expressing his support for “the biblical definition of the family unit.” (See story on page 14.)
After allegedly shooting Johnson, Corkins reportedly begged not to be shot, and said, “it was not about you, it was what this place stands for.”
In an interview after the incident, Johnson had said that after being shot, “I didn’t feel any pain. I felt my arm snap back, so I knew I was hit, but I didn’t feel any pain.
“Although I didn’t want to get shot – nobody wants to get shot – I feel that God put me in a position to be there at that time,” he said.
FRC president Tony Perkins told media that after Johnson came out of surgery on the day of the shooting, “I was there and I told him, I said, ‘Leo, I want you to know, you’re a hero and that’s what we believe you are, and that’s what Americans all across the country believe you are – a hero – for what you did today.”
When the shooting occurred, religious and conservative websites reported the incident, as did Fox News and the Washington Post, but CNN, with its headquarters just a block away took more than four hours to report the shooting. Because most local radio and television broadcasts take their cues from CNN and the New York Times, which also did not report the FRC shooting until the afternoon, the news was slow to spread and was not featured prominently in broadcasts when it did.
While the attack did not appear to rise to the level of a hate crime under federal law – atni-religious motivations count, but political opinions do not – social conservatives wondered whether the political motivations of the shooter would be reported at all. Generally, the connection between the shooter’s political comments – telling Leo Johnson it was nothing personal, but “what this place stands for” – was ignored. Pro-life blogger Jill Stanek wrote, “I waited for the mainstream media to connect Corkins to the homosexual activist community.” Few mainstream media outlets made the connection. The Washington Post offered a line that Corkins “disagreed” with FRC’s politics.
While 23 organizations supporting same-sex “marriage” condemned the shooting in a joint statement saying they “utterly reject and condemn” such violence, LGBT groups such as the Human Rights Campaign and Truth Wins out often label FRC and organizations like them as “certified anti-gay hate groups” and in 2010, the Southern Poverty Law Center labeled it a “hate group” in its annual report, effectively linking opposition to same-sex “marriage” to racist groups like the Ku Klux Klan and White Aryan Resistance.
In the wake of the attack on the FRC, Jonathan S. Tobin wrote at the Commentary website about the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), observing, “it’s clear that the SPLC has long since stopped being the heroic defender of civil rights and become just another left-wing advocacy group that engages in its own version of intolerant and extreme rhetoric.” Tobin noted that disagreement with their left-wing political agenda is painted as hate: “according to the SPLC’s way of thinking groups like the Family Research Center that oppose abortion and gay marriage are pretty much the moral equivalent of the Klan.”
Dana Milbank, a columnist with the Washington Post, absolved the SPLC of responsibility for the FRC shooting, but still labeled as “reckless” the hate rhetoric of the SPLC and Human Rights Campaign. FRC president Tony Perkins said that the SPLC’s hate label served as the “spark” for the violence targeting his organization.
Perkins also complained that the media ignored the story, but understood why. Appearing on Fox News, he said the shooting, “doesn’t fit the storyline. You know, it’s supposed to be conservatives who are angry and who are filled with hate.”
Parts of this article originally appeared at LifeSiteNews.com August 24 and are used with permission.