WashPost Offers Positive Story on 'Hero' That Foiled Leftist Shooter at Family Research Council

Foiled shooter Floyd Corkins is being sentenced on Thursday for his attempted mass shooting at the conservative Family Research Council on August 15, 2012. On the front of Thursday's Metro section, Washington Post reporter Ann E. Marimow offered a positive story on security guard Leonardo Johnson, who was shot in the arm as he prevented Corkins from his murderous plot.

"I want to look in his eyes" was the headline, and Johnson was called a "Hero" in quotes. Why in quotes? Perhaps because his FRC co-workers properly call him "Leo the Hero."

Marimow also reported on the Corkins assault when it happened, and when he was indicted.

ABC was the only broadcast network that offered a full story on the FRC office shooting on that Wednesday night 13 months ago. They led with the story and gave it two and a half minutes. None of the network newscasts reported the breaking detail that shooter Floyd Corkins volunteered for six months at the D.C. Center for the LGBT Community, adding depth to his political motivation.

CBS gave it 20 seconds, NBC 17 seconds.  PBS and NPR had nothing.

Please take a few moments to read up on Johnson's story:

Thirteen months later, bullet holes are still visible in the building's wood-paneled lobby. Slender scars are hidden under Johnson's white dress shirt-sleeves.

On Thursday, Johnson and the shooter will be together for the first time since that August morning; Floyd Lee Corkins II is scheduled to be sentenced at the U.S. District Court in Washington. Prosecutors are seeking a prison term of 45 years; Corkins's attorney is asking for 111 / 2 years, citing his client's chronic mental illness.

To co-workers at the Family Research Council, the 47-year-old who grew up in Southeast is now "Leo the Hero." The mass shooting at the Washington Navy Yard on Monday that left 12 people dead was a fresh, tragic reminder, Johnson's colleagues and relatives said, of what could have happened if not for Johnson....

“Leo took a bullet for me. He took a bullet for the staff,” said Paul Tripodi, vice president of administration at the Family Research Council. A gold plaque in the lobby marks the spot of the struggle and the “heroic action” by Johnson, who “selflessly prevented a tragedy.”

It was all over in less than a minute. But not before Johnson almost pulled the trigger himself.

As Corkins rose from his spot behind the reception desk, he pointed his handgun at Johnson’s head and upper body. Johnson, who played junior varsity football at Ballou High School, shielded his face with one arm, ducked and charged.

Corkins fired three shots as the two men struggled. One hit Johnson in the left forearm. He kept going, pinning Corkins against a wall and punching him as hard as he could until he felt the grip on the weapon loosen.

“I knew I needed to get the gun. If I didn’t, he was going to kill me,” Johnson said as he walked through the crime scene with a reporter for the first time last week. “He didn’t come here to talk.”

In the heat of his struggle with Corkins, Johnson’s adrenaline was pumping. His left arm had swollen to twice its normal size and he could not move his fingers. Still, he managed to wrest the gun from Corkins and force him to the ground.

“I thought I was paralyzed,” Johnson said. “I was enraged. I was going to shoot him. I was going to kill him.”

Corkins pleaded with Johnson not to shoot, Johnson recalled. He told him essentially, “It’s not about you,” it’s about the policies of the Family Research Council, according to court documents and interviews.

“But you shot me,” Johnson said he responded.

Johnson did not fire back. His faith intervened, he said: “The Lord spoke to me.”


...The shooting put Johnson in the hospital for a week after emergency surgery for the shattered bones in his forearm. He was back in the intensive care unit soon after for blood clots in his lung.

For weeks, Johnson couldn’t lift anything heavier than a coffee cup. At home in Oxon Hill, he leaned on his girlfriend of 13 years, Erica Reed, for the most basic tasks: getting dressed, preparing breakfast, taking out the trash.

There were painful, grueling weeks of physical therapy as he stretched, pulled and squeezed to regain motion and strength in his arm...

In April, Johnson had another surgery to replace four inches of bone in his left arm with bone from his pelvis. Metal plates remain permanently in his arm. There’s still discomfort, numbness where the bullet entered and pulsating pain if he overdoes it lifting heavy bags.

Johnson plans to be in the courtroom with his mother, girlfriend and dozens of employees from the Family Research Council when Corkins learns his punishment Thursday.

“It’s important to make a statement, to let everyone know the impact and how traumatizing it’s been for my family,” Johnson said. “I want to look in his eyes. I want to see if there is any remorse.”

Johnson initially struggled with the hero label. He didn’t want a big fuss and requested a private ceremony when Mayor Vincent C. Gray (D) awarded him the city’s first medal of honor.

“I’d like to think that anyone would have done what I did,” Johnson said. “I’m just Leo at the end of the day.”

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis