WASHINGTON (CBSDC/AP) — A law enforcement official says a suspected gunman made a negative reference about the work of a conservative Christian lobbying group before shooting a security guard.
The reference was made in a confrontation in the lobby of the Family Research Council in Washington Wednesday morning. The official spoke only on condition of anonymity because the investigation is ongoing.
Another law enforcement official identified the suspect as Floyd Corkins II. Authorities were interviewing neighbors in Corkins’ neighborhood in Herndon, Va., on Wednesday evening.
Corkins walked into the Christian lobbying group’s Washington headquarters and was confronted by a security guard, whom he shot in the arm before being wrestled to the ground, authorities said.
The guard, who was an employee of the FRC, was taken to a hospital in stable condition.
It wasn’t immediately known whether the confrontation was related to the work of the Family Research Council, which advocates conservative positions on social issues and strongly opposes gay marriage and abortion.
David Mariner is executive director of The DC Center for the LGBT Community. He says Corkins had been volunteering at the center for about the past 6 months. Mariner describes Corkins as “kind, gentle and unassuming.”
“Our first concern is with our colleague who was shot today,” the group’s president, Tony Perkins, said in a statement.
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney said in a statement that he was appalled by the shooting. “There is no place for such violence in our society,” he said. “My prayers go out to the wounded security guard and his family, as well as all the people at the Family Research Council whose sense of security has been shattered by today’s horrific events.”
D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier is praising the guard’s actions.
“He did his job,” Lanier said. “The person never made it farther than the front door.”
The headquarters of the Family Research Council is in the city’s bustling Chinatown neighborhood, near the Verizon Center, the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery and several museums, restaurants and shops.
Amy Biondi and her husband Steve were visiting Washington from Long Island with their daughter and a friend and tried to ask officers for help with a parking meter when they were told there was a situation they had to deal with. The door to the FRC was opened, and an officer repeatedly shouted, “Put the gun down, put the gun down.”
“Next thing you know there are police officers swarming the area,” said Biondi, 45, a massage therapist from St. James, N.Y.
The family didn’t get a close look, but they said the man officers were talking to seemed to comply with the orders immediately.
Perkins was an outspoken defender of Chick-fil-A President Dan Cathy’s public stand against same-sex marriage, which made the fast-food chain a flashpoint in the nation’s culture wars. The Cathy family foundation has funded the Family Research Council.
“He’s taking a bold stand,” Perkins said after Cathy’s comments were reported. “Chick-fil-A is a Bible-based, Christian-based business who treats their employees well. They have been attacked in the past about their stand. But they refuse to budge on this matter, and I commend them for what they are doing.”
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