After Shooting, Another Conservative Group Issues Fundraising Appeal
WASHINGTON (CNN) — The leader of a conservative Christian organization says she believes that the man charged in a shooting Wednesday at the Family Research Council also targeted her group, and she is citing that shooting in a fundraising appeal.
Andrea Lafferty, president of the Traditional Values Coalition, called on supporters Monday night to make contributions so she can hire security guards.
According to Lafferty, a member of the Joint Terrorism Task Force investigating the shooting told her Friday that suspect Floyd Lee Corkins II had her organization’s address in his pocket at the time of his arrest.
The FBI would not comment on whether Corkins had the address or whether he was targeting the Traditional Values Coalition.
According to a criminal complaint, Corkins entered the Washington headquarters of the Family Research Council on Wednesday morning and confronted the building manager, Leo Johnson.
Surveillance video shows that Corkins took a firearm from his backpack and shot Johnson in the arm, at which point the wounded Johnson “wrestled the firearm away from Corkins, and subdued him,” according to the complaint.
Lafferty said members of the Joint Terrorism Task Force interviewed people in her office the day after the shooting. She said she was upset she wasn’t told earlier that Corkins had her group’s address.
Lafferty said more should have been done in case the shooter was acting as part of a group.
She said she sent a letter Friday to Attorney General Eric Holder asking for security assistance but has not received a response. She said she also called the Justice Department and was referred to the police department.
Lafferty said Monday that her group has received death threats in the past but has not been subject to any actual attacks.
In her fundraising appeal, she said her group hasn’t been able to afford security guards.
“All that stood between the FRC shooter and tragedy — had he decided to come to TVC first — was a rickety steel door,” Lafferty said in her request.
The Southern Poverty Law Center lists both the Family Research Council and the Traditional Values Council as hate groups.
In her fundraising appeal, Lafferty blamed the the law center for “causing this left-wing violence against Christian groups.”
Booth Gunter of the Southern Poverty Law Center rejected that argument, saying Tuesday that the two groups made the hate list not for religious reasons or for their opposition to same-sex marriage but because they “demonize” gay and transgender groups and spread falsehoods about them.
Corkins, 28, is charged with assault with intent to kill while armed and with interstate transportation of a firearm and ammunition. The two charges carry up to 40 years in prison. A judge ordered him to undergo a mental evaluation.
According to a government affidavit, a witness heard Corkins say words to the effect of “I don’t like your politics.” The document also said Corkins’ parents told the authorities that their son “has strong opinions with respect to those he believes do not treat homosexuals in a fair manner.”
Corkins, who lives with his parents in Herndon, Virginia, volunteered at the Washington DC Community Center for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender People, said David Mariner, executive director of the center.
“No matter the circumstances, we condemn such violence in the strongest terms possible,” Mariner said in a statement after the shooting.
Investigators found 15 Chick-Fil-A sandwiches in Corkins’ backpack. The court affidavit noted that the president of Chick-Fil-A had recently announced his opposition to same-sex marriage.
The court document did not spell out a specific motive for the shooting. Corkins is scheduled for a court appearance Friday.
By Carol Cratty – CNN
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