While I was missing lunch, a crime scene played out in the office lobby below me. My coworker and friend Leo wasn’t armed, but he’d played the quick-thinking and inadvertent hero, disarming a young man on a mission to kill me and as many of my colleagues as possible. The gunman had packed his backpack with ammo and 15 Chick-fil-A sandwiches — later admitting that he’d planned to smear them on our lifeless faces as a political statement. Leo took a bullet in the arm but managed to disarm and hold the attacker until law enforcement arrived.
I wrote and edited for the Family Research Council, a public advocacy organization that promoted the principles I’d cared about since childhood: protecting the family, promoting the dignity of every human life and advocating for religious liberty. It reads like a tagline, but it’s also just what I believed and the way I chose to match my career with my convictions.
I never expected that everyone would celebrate or share my beliefs. But I did expect to be able to discuss and debate these differences without becoming a political target in an act of terrorism, the first conviction under Washington, D.C.’s 2002 Anti-Terrorism Act.