While details have emerged about Floyd Lee Corkins, the man who opened fire on a security guard Wednesday at the Family Research Council headquarters, officials are debating on who the finger of blame should point to.
Family Research Council President Tony Perkins spoke to reporters in Washington on Thursday and expressed a firm belief that Corkins, a 28-year-old man who had volunteered for a center that serves gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people, was responsible for the shooting.
But as Perkins continued his address to the public, he went on to say that "Corkins was given a license to shoot an unarmed man by organizations like the Southern Poverty Law Center.
The FRC president described the law center as a place that has been "reckless" in labeling organizations hate groups just 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."
As investigators continue to search for a motive behind the D.C. shooting, the answer behind the question could determine whether Corkins is charged with domestic terrorism or hate crimes.
The Southern Poverty Law Center released a statement in response to Perkins's allegations describing them as "outrageous."
In the hours after detaining Corkins, news outlets reported police to have discovered Chick-fil-A reading materials on the alleged gunman.
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 garnered much negative attention toward the food franchise and its president with activists interpreting that Cathy's statement as a clear opposition to gay marriages.
In the complaint filed against Corkins after he was detained, authorities described the suspect as someone who "has strong opinions with respect to those he believes do not treat homosexuals in a fair manner." Officials cited the suspect's parents, with whom he lives in Herndon, Virginia, outside Washington.
When reporters asked Perkins what evidence they had that might link Corkins to the Law center, Perkins referred to the Chick-fil-A matter.
"You have seen Family Research Council listed in many of those stories -- that Chick fil-A supports and underwrites the Family Research Council.
"And in those stories where it says the Family Research Council, it says they're a certified hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. We've seen that term used increasingly over the last two years and it marginalizes individuals and organizations, letting people feel free to go and do bodily harm to innocent people who are simply working and representing folks all across this country."
He went on to add that Chic-fil-A donated 1,000 to the Family Research Council "a number of years ago" but does not underwrite his group.
, National Organization for Marriage President Brian Brown also criticized the Southern Poverty Law Center in an interview with CNN, saying that its listing of the Family Research Council on its website was equating the group with violent extremist groups.
"The responsibility is on the shooter, but we need to have a civil debate over issues like redefining marriage," he said Thursday on CNN's "Early Start." "But we should not be attacking and labeling as hate groups those that we disagree (with). We should condemn violence of any sort, but we should also be responsible."
In continuation of the SPLC statement that was released, the center explained why it had listed the Family Research Council as a hate group since 2010, saying that it did so "because it has knowingly spread false and denigrating propaganda about LGBT people -- not, as some claim, because it opposes same-sex marriage."
"The FRC and its allies on the religious right are saying, in effect, that offering legitimate and fact-based criticism in a democratic society is tantamount to suggesting that the objects of criticism should be the targets of criminal violence."
Perkins was using Wednesday's shooting "to pose a false equivalency between the SPLC's criticisms of the FRC and the FRC's criticisms of LGBT people," the SPLC added. "The FRC routinely pushes out demonizing claims that gay people are child molesters and worse -- claims that are provably false. It should stop the demonization and affirm the dignity of all people."
My name is Carey Vanderborg and I'm a journalist working in New York City. I love food, travel, craft beer, live music and writing about all of the above.