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Civil rights group bristles at shooting criticism

WASHINGTON — A man who volunteered at a gay community center had a backpack full of Chick-fil-A sandwiches and a box of ammunition when he said "I don't like your politics" and shot a security guard at the headquarters of a conservative lobbying group, authorities revealed Thursday.

Floyd Lee Corkins II, 28, was ordered held without bond on charges that he opened fire a day earlier at the Family Research Council, an influential conservative Christian group that has supported the president of the fast-food chain in his staunch opposition to same-sex marriage.

Though the shooting was swiftly condemned by groups across the ideological spectrum, it tapped into deep divisions over cultural issues like gay marriage and drew finger-pointing about whether inflamed rhetoric on either side was to blame.

Family Research Council President Tony Perkins said "reckless rhetoric" from organizations that disagree with his group's opposition to abortion and same-sex marriage was to blame for the shooting.

"Corkins was given a license to shoot an unarmed man by organizations like the Southern Poverty Law Center that have been reckless in labeling organization hate groups because they disagree with them on public policy," Perkins said.

The Southern Poverty Law Center, an Alabama civil rights organization that tracks and litigates hate groups, labeled the FRC as a hate group in 2010 for what it called the group's anti-gay stance.

Mark Potok, a senior fellow at the SPLC, called Perkins' accusation "outrageous." He said the council was labeled for spreading false propaganda about LGBT people, not for its opposition to same-sex marriage.

Corkins entered the lobby of the downtown Washington building carrying a backpack with ammunition and 15 Chick-fil-A sandwiches, officials said. It wasn't clear what he planned to do with the sandwiches.

The guard was shot in the arm but was able to help wrestle the gun away and restrain the shooter, police said.

Corkins, who lives with his parents in Herndon, Va., was charged with assault with intent to kill and bringing firearms across state lines.

Civil rights group bristles at shooting criticism 08/16/12 [Last modified: Thursday, August 16, 2012 11:58pm]
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