Michael Sessa, president of the D.C. Center for the LGBT Community, said the FBI has spoken with staff members about Corkins’s time there, which had been about six months. Corkins would have performed administrative work checking in people at the front desk and would have undergone a background check, Sessa said.
“We are all shocked,” he said.
David Mariner, the center’s director, said in a statement: “We condemn such violence in the strongest terms possible. We hope for a full and speedy recovery for the victim, and our thoughts are with him and his family.”
Allan P. Chan, 28, a former George Mason student, said he met Corkins at a campus gym about six years ago. They worked out together, lifting weights, and began to socialize and watch television together. Chan described Corkins as secretive and somewhat odd. Corkins’s Facebook page included no photos, not even his own, and he displayed an intense interest in the 19th-century German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche.
“He was a fanatic of Nietzsche,” Chan said.
Corkins apparently traveled to the District on a Metro train Wednesday morning after parking his car at the East Falls Church station, authorities said.
About 10:45 a.m., the shooter arrived at the Family Research Council’s brick-and-stone building at 801 G St. NW and walked through the tall glass-and-metal front doors, under an archway chiseled with group’s motto: “Faith, Family, Freedom.” Johnson, the guard, confronted him in the lobby, Lanier said.
The building is not far from the Gallery Place Metro station in one of the busiest areas of the city, thick with restaurants, shops and museums.
In the lobby, the intruder began “making statements” in opposition to the Family Research Council’s social conservatism, a law enforcement official said.
In the struggle that followed, Johnson “did a phenomenal job,” FBI spokeswoman Jacqueline Maguire said. She and Lanier said that if the gunman had gotten past the lobby and into the offices, a mass shooting might have occurred.
Neither investigators nor the group’s spokesman, Darin Miller, would disclose personal information about Johnson, who has been a longtime presence in the building.
Gina Dalfonzo, a policy analyst for the organization a decade ago, recalled him as “a pretty imposing guy” with “a professional demeanor.”
The council’s president, Tony Perkins, declined to discuss the incident in detail, referring inquiries to the police and FBI. “Our first concern is with our colleague who was shot,” Perkins said in a statement. “Our concern is for him and his family.”
Officials said Corkins’s gun was bought legally within the past several weeks.
“Our initial investigation has found no criminal activity associated with the gun or its purchase,” said Richard Marianos, the agent in charge of the D.C. office of the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
James McJunkin, the head of the FBI’s Washington Field Office, said investigators were seeking to determine why the gunman entered the building.
“We don’t know enough about him or his circumstances . . . or his mental state or what he was doing or thinking of doing,” McJunkin said. “So we’re going to try to sort this all out, pull the evidence together, do all the interviews we can.”
At the East Falls Church Metro station, where authorities said Corkins parked his car, investigators towed away two vehicles about 3 p.m. A white sedan was on the back of a flatbed tow truck with a green sedan that had a damaged front end.
Mark Berman, Magda Jean-Louis, Jennifer Jenkins, Justin Jouvenal, Allison Klein, Fredrick Kunkle, Del Quentin Wilber, Clarence Williams and Mihirs Zaveri contributed to this report.