Cops: Suspect in FRC shooting volunteered at Washington LGBT center

posted at 8:42 pm on August 15, 2012 by Mary Katharine Ham

The other post was getting mighty heavy, so I’m adding new updates here.

We’re learning more about the suspected shooter, Floyd Corkins II, of Herndon, Va.:

(AP) WASHINGTON – A man suspected of shooting and wounding a security guard in the lobby of a Christian lobbying group had been volunteering at a community center for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people.

A law enforcement official has identified the suspect arrested in Wednesday’s shooting as Floyd Corkins II of Herndon, Va. Investigators were interviewing his neighbors.

Another official says the shooter made a negative reference about the work of the Family Research Council before opening fire. The officials spoke anonymously because they were not authorized to discuss the ongoing investigation.

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.”

A group of gay rights groups released a statement condemning the shooting:

We were saddened to hear news of the shooting this morning at the offices of the Family Research Council. Our hearts go out to the shooting victim, his family, and his co-workers.

The motivation and circumstances behind today’s tragedy are still unknown, but regardless of what emerges as the reason for this shooting, we utterly reject and condemn such violence. We wish for a swift and complete recovery for the victim of this terrible incident.

I avoided getting into the possible motivations of the suspect early on, as everyone should do in the confusing wake of a shooting. This time, when it bothered to cover the shooting at all, the media did the same. It is instructive, though, to remember how a total absence of evidence that Jared Loughner was a conservative nonetheless led to immediate and sustained coverage of how right-leaning political rhetoric had somehow caused the shooting. In this case, the shooter had a political target, there are reports of his yelling about his opposition to FRC during the attack and carrying a Chick-fil-A bag, and now there’s a leftish-leaning political affiliation in the form of his volunteerism. And yet, Brian Ross managed to stay away from Google today.

CNN managed to stay away from the story entirely for more than two hours despite the fact that FRC’s offices are less than a mile from their D.C. bureau. The Huffington Post‘s afternoon e-mailed Capitol Hill report mentioned nary a word about the shooting. The Washington Post noted the suspected shooter “expressed disagreement” with the organization’s positions.

Talking Points Memo, a left-leaning reported blog, should be commended for staying with the story all day long, thoroughly and doggedly. Ryan J. Reilly was the reporter on this, and his headline goes further than any I’ve seen in addressing the shooter’s possible motivations: “Family Research Council shooter allegedly motivated by group’s anti-gay stances”

Frankly, if the media covered all these shootings with a modicum of the circumspection it showed today, I’d be happy. Gabriel Malor has a list of all the times the media has blamed violence on the right and turned out to be wrong. It’s not pretty. Unfortunately, that circumspection seems to be reserved for people shooting up conservative organizations and people yelling “Allahu Akbar,” whose motives cannot possibly be divined.

To illustrate the double standard, all you have to do is replace one letter of this story. FRC becomes HRC, the Human Rights Campaign. Please tell me CNN would have missed that story for several hours or that the media would studiously have noted, over and over, that police had no clues as to the motive of the shooter.

Conservatives should certainly point out this double standard, but I’d caution us not to go down the same road the Left has. For instance, the Southern Poverty Law Center, in all its idiocy, labels Family Research Council a “hate” group, which is ludicrous and intolerant. But that didn’t cause a probably crazy person to shoot up an advocacy group. They should be pressed to live by their own rhetoric rules— new tone!— but I get nervous when anyone starts saying political speech is responsible for any subsequent physical violence.

Obama finally reacted to the shooting this evening, through Press Secretary Jay Carney reporting to the press pool. He used what appears to be the subject line from Mitt Romney’s 2:14 p.m. e-mailed statement on the incident.

Romney subject line: MITT ROMNEY: THERE IS NO PLACE FOR VIOLENCE IN OUR SOCIETY

Obama: “this type of violence has no place in our society,” per a pool report.

The sentence is pretty standard fare for what is becoming a far-too-frequent occasion, but it’s odd, isn’t it? Especially when the president found time to give a pretty thorough defense of Vice President Joe Biden’s “chains” comments to People Magazine today. Speaking of Biden, per the press pool report, he stopped at a memorial for the Va. Tech massacre today at 2:20 p.m., several hours after news of the FRC shooting had broken. He was asked what the memorial meant to him, but not about today’s shooting.

Again, replace FRC with HRC, and imagine that.

There are conflicting reports as to whether this has been classified as “domestic terrorism.” The FBI was on the scene all day and interviewing associates, suggesting it might be. Domestic terrorism implies a political motive. Authorities are now interviewing the suspect’s neighbors in Herndon, Va., according to WTOP.

Again, this is a photo of the alleged shooter, apparently taken by a witness at the scene.


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