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Inflamed rhetoric a factor in D.C. shooting?

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 yesterday.

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

The shooting was swiftly condemned by groups across the ideological spectrum, but 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 organizations hate groups because they disagree with them on public policy," Perkins said.

The Southern Poverty Law Center, an Alabama-based civil rights organization that tracks and litigates hate groups, labeled the council 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 lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, not for its opposition to same-sex marriage.

Corkins, 28, entered the lobby of the downtown Washington building on Wednesday morning, carrying a backpack with a box of ammunition and 15 Chick-fil-A sandwiches, police said.

The Family Research Council had recently defended Chick-fil-A president Dan Cathy for his opposition to gay marriage.

Corkins, who had been volunteering at a D.C. community center for LGBT people, said to the guard words to the effect of, "I don't like your politics," and pulled a handgun from his backpack, according to an FBI affidavit.

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 carrying firearms across state lines.

The shooting was denounced by President Barack Obama and Republican president candidate Mitt Romney, and by gay and lesbian advocacy groups and Christian organizations.

The guard, Leonardo "Leo" Johnson, 46, was resting at a hospital Thursday.

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