Just hours into his work day at the Family Research Council's office building on Wednesday morning, security guard Leo Johnson was being hailed by law enforcement officers as a "hero" after subduing a shooter whose objective was to gain entry into the group's downtown D.C. offices.
Johnson was apparently shot in the arm either before or during the attack when 28-year-old shooting suspect Floyd Lee Corkins, II entered the foyer of the FRC building with a 9mm handgun and what law enforcement officers consider an intent to harm those who worked in the non-partisan group's offices.
One of the first to refer to Johnson as a hero was Washington, D.C., Police Chief Cathy Lanier. "The security guard here is a hero, as far as I'm concerned," she said. "He did his job. The person never made it past the front."
Tony Perkins, president of FRC was with Johnson at the hospital and told him how his actions most likely saved the lives of many employees and innocent bystanders.
"I was at the hospital last night when he came out of surgery shortly before midnight. The surgery went well," Perkins said in a statement to The Christian Post.
"When I told him his actions were heroic in protecting his colleagues, he told me that he just reacted in the way he thought anyone at FRC would have responded. We are very grateful for the outpouring of prayers from literally around the world."
Johnson is expected to fully recover from his injuries.
Joe Carter is a former employee of FRC and knew Johnson personally. Carter's description of the building indicated that a key-card was required to gain access to the inter building and operate the elevator. These precautions were added several years earlier after a group of protesters chained themselves together in the lobby.
Carter recalls Johnson as a patient and kind man, especially when he was asked repeatedly to let Carter gain access after forgetting or misplacing his key-card. He also suggested that Johnson's amenable demeanor was present when Corkins initially entered the lobby.
"When I worked at FRC (2006-2008) I would have happily swapped jobs with almost any other employee – except for Leo. Having manned many a guard post while in the military, I couldn't imagine having to do such a boring, repetitive, often-thankless job," Carter wrote in a column for Acton Institute late Wednesday.
"Leo never complained, though, and never became a clock-punching rent-a-cop. He was frequently awarded for being a loyal and dedicated employee and was admired by everyone. Yet the certificates and 'Employee of the Month' plaques were modest tributes to his true character, which few people fully recognized until today."
From what Carter has been able to piece together from news reports and conversations with former co-workers, Johnson, who was sitting behind a desk, buzzed Corkins, who was carrying a bag, into the lobby.
When Johnson inquired about what was in the bag, Corkins began firing (reportedly three shots) and hit Johnson in the arm. At that time Johnson came from behind the desk and took the gun away from Corkins and subdued him until the police arrived.
While little is known about Corkins at this time, officials have confirmed he was a volunteer for the U Street NW community center for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.
According to the group's president, Michael Sessa, the FBI has interviewed staffers regarding Corkins' time and role at the center and said he would have undergone a background check as he worked at the organization's front desk; just as Leo Johnson did at the FRC building.
"We are all shocked," Sessa told The Washington Post.
A former classmate at George Mason University, Allan Chan, described Corkins as secretive and odd and that he had an interest in the 19th century German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche. "He was a fanatic of Nietzsche," Chan told The Washington Post.