A man who planned a mass shooting at a conservative Christian lobbying group's Washington headquarters in 2012 has been sentenced to 25 years in prison.
Prosecutors asked that Floyd Corkins II spend 45 years in prison, but Corkins' lawyer said his client was mentally ill when he entered the Family Research Council building Aug. 15, 2012, and shot and injured a security guard.
Prosecutors showed video of Corkins buying the handgun at a Virginia gun shop six days before the shooting.
They said that Corkins was allowed to enter the headquarters of the Family Research Council by saying he was interviewing for an internship. After being asked for identification, he took a pistol from a backpack in which he also was carrying almost 100 rounds and fired three shots. One struck security guard Leonardo Johnson in the arm.
Johnson managed to wrestle away the gun, and police arrested Corkins.
He pleaded guilty in February to three charges stemming from the shooting, and acknowledged in a plea agreement that he had intended to kill as many people as possible.
Corkins was carrying 15 Chick-fil-A sandwiches during the shooting. He said he planned to smear them in his victims' faces as a political statement.
Chick-fil-A was making headlines at the time because of its president's opposition to gay marriage. The Family Research Council opposes gay marriage.
During Thursday’s sentencing hearing, Corkins apologized to the Family Research Council and the security guard he injured.
“I realize resorting to violence to achieve a political end is never OK,” he said, adding that he still disagrees with the Family Research Council, whose president and a number of employees were in the courtroom.
The guard Corkins shot in the arm, Leo Johnson, also attended. He looked Corkins in the eye in court and told him he forgave him, telling Corkins that God had saved both of their lives on the day of the shooting. Johnson had an opportunity to shoot Corkins but didn't.
After the hearing, Johnson said he would have preferred to see Corkins get more prison time but was “very pleased” and “satisfied” with the judge's sentence.
Throughout the hearing, there were mentions of Monday's shooting at the Washington Navy Yard, in which a lone gunman killed 12 people before being killed himself in a gun battle with police. Prosecutor T. Patrick Martin compared Corkins' plan to that shooter's, saying Corkins was no less determined and no less prepared. He credited Johnson with preventing Corkins from carrying out his plan.
The president of the Family Research Council, Tony Perkins, also spoke. He said that but for Johnson's actions, the shooting “might have ended like the tragic shooting in the District of Columbia earlier this week.” He said that employees now pass by armed guards on their way to work.
“I give all praise to God for giving me the strength to act and do what I needed to do to keep that situation from becoming another Navy Yard situation or another Boston situation,” Johnson said.
Before sentencing Corkins, the judge overseeing the case, Richard W. Roberts, the Chief Judge of the U.S. District Court in Washington, said Corkins had planned the shooting, rehearsing how he would get to the headquarters. He credited Johnson with averting the “carnage” and said that the way “positive change” happens in America is not through violence.