Accusations of blame abounded Thursday, a day after a 28-year-old man who had volunteered for a center that serves gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people was taken into custody for allegedly shooting a building manager at the headquarters of a Christian conservative group.
"Let me be clear that Floyd Corkins was responsible for firing the shot yesterday," Family Research Council President Tony Perkins told reporters in Washington about the suspect. "But Corkins was given a license to shoot an unarmed man by organizations like the Southern Poverty Law Center that have been reckless in labeling organizations hate groups because they disagree with them on public policy."
Perkins said the SPLC "should be held accountable for their reckless use of terminology that is leading to the intimidation and what the FBI here has categorized as an act of domestic terrorism."
Prosecutors said they are still investigating the motive behind the shooting, and the motive could determine whether Corkins is charged with domestic terrorism or hate crimes.
In a statement, the Southern Poverty Law Center described as "outrageous" the suggestion that it had contributed to the attack.
The Family Research Council, which focuses on family and anti-abortion issues and religious liberties, recently supported Chick-fil-A President Dan Cathy, who had become embroiled in controversy after making comments in support of traditional marriage.
"We are very much supportive of the family, the biblical definition of the family unit," Cathy told The Baptist Press in an interview published July 16. "We are a family-owned business, a family-led business, and we are married to our first wives. We give God thanks for that."
The statement sparked an uproar, with activists saying that Cathy voiced opposition to gay marriages.
Corkins, who was carrying 15 Chick fil-A sandwiches in his bag when he was taken into custody, "has strong opinions with respect to those he believes do not treat homosexuals in a fair manner," authorities said in the complaint filed against Corkins, citing the suspect's parents, with whom he lives in Herndon, Virginia, outside Washington.
Asked what evidence he had linking the center to the shooting, Perkins referred to the Chick-fil-A matter.