The FBI investigation into the Orlando shooting massacre that left 49 people dead at an LGBTQ club has taken an unexpected twist after evidence emerged the gunman was a regular patron of the club. On Monday morning, FBI Director James Comey said the shooter, Omar Mateen, was likely radicalized online, but that no evidence has emerged he received outside help in the attack. Comey said the FBI first interviewed Mateen in 2013 after co-workers said he made “inflammatory and contradictory” remarks about terrorism.
James Comey: “We then interviewed him twice. He admitted making the statements that his co-workers reported, but explained that he did it in anger because he thought his co-workers were discriminating against him and teasing him because he was Muslim. After 10 months of investigation, we closed the preliminary investigation.”
During a phone call to police on Sunday morning, Mateen expressed support for the self-proclaimed Islamic State, but Comey said at other times he also expressed solidarity to groups fighting against ISIS, including Hezbollah and al-Nusra Front. Witnesses who were trapped in the club’s bathroom with Mateen during the attack said he also spoke about a need to stop the U.S. bombing in Syria. The FBI has begun investigating multiple claims that Mateen might have been gay himself and frequented the Pulse nightclub. The claims have come from numerous people, including his ex-wife, a former high school classmate and several club patrons. Meanwhile, solidarity vigils have been held across the country and around the world for the 49 victims of the attack, most of whom were young and Latinx. We’ll have more on the massacre after headlines.
Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has cited the Orlando attack to call for banning all immigrants from any country with a history of terrorism against the U.S. or its allies. Trump said the shooter was “born an Afghan, of Afghan parents,” even though Mateen was born in New York and is a U.S. citizen.
Donald Trump: “When I’m elected, I will suspend immigration from areas of the world where there is a proven history of terrorism against the United States, Europe or our allies, until we fully understand how to end these threats. … We cannot continue to allow thousands upon thousands of people to pour into our country, many of whom have the same thought process as this savage killer.”
Donald Trump has banned The Washington Post from covering his events, accusing the paper of “incredibly inaccurate coverage.” Washington Post editor Marty Baron called the move “nothing less than a repudiation of the role of a free and independent press.” Trump has also banned BuzzFeed, The Huffington Post, The Daily Beast, The Des Moines Register, the Union Leader, Univision and Fusion.
The 49 people killed in the Orlando massacre have all been identified. Among those now confirmed killed is Christopher Leinonen, whose mother Christine gave an emotional interview to ABC News Sunday as she was still waiting to hear news about her son.
Christine Leinonen: “I just wanted to say, though, that this is a club that nobody wants to be in. And please can we do something with the assault weapons, so that we can stop this club from ever getting any new members? I beg all of you. Please.”
Christine Leinonen’s son Christopher was 32.
On Capitol Hill, Democratic lawmakers erupted into protest over inaction by Republican leaders on gun control. Some left the chamber as House Speaker Paul Ryan held a moment of silence to honor the Orlando victims. South Carolina Congressmember Jim Clyburn took to the floor to ask Ryan when the House would consider gun control legislation. But Ryan shut him down on procedural grounds.
Rep. Jim Clyburn: “Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. I am really concerned that we have just today had a moment of silence, and later this week, the 17th”—
House Speaker Paul Ryan: “Is the gentleman stating a parliamentary inquiry?”
Rep. Jim Clyburn: “Yes. Mr. Speaker, I am particularly interested about three pieces of legislation that have been filed in response to Charleston.”
House Speaker Paul Ryan: “The gentleman is not stating a parliamentary inquiry. The gentleman is not stating a parliamentary inquiry. The clerk will report the title of the bill.”
In New Mexico, the victims of another mass shooting have been identified. Cynthia Villegas and her four daughters—Yamilen, Cynthia Janeth, Abby and Ida—were murdered over the weekend in North Roswell. Villegas’ husband, Juan David Villegas, is charged with the murders. We’ll have more on the connection between mass shootings and domestic violence later in the broadcast.
In Santa Ana, California, a transgender woman has been shot and injured. Authorities said the woman stumbled to a gas station Friday after being shot. Meanwhile, another LGBT victim was discovered dead in a burned-out car last Sunday. The victim’s family identified Devin Diamond as a gay man, and news reports referred to Diamond using male pronouns, but in The New Orleans Advocate a friend described Diamond as a woman in the midst of a gender transition.
In France, ISIS has claimed responsibility for the fatal stabbing of a French police commander outside Paris. The attacker, identified as Larossi Abballa, then held the commander’s partner and the couple’s three-year-old son hostage, eventually killing the partner, who worked as an administrative police official. Police stormed the house and killed the attacker. French President François Hollande called the killing “incontestably a terrorist act.”
In southeastern Turkey, a Syrian journalist has been shot, but survived, marking the second attempt on his life in three months. An ISIS news agency said the militant group carried out the shooting against Abd al-Qader, founder of the exiled Syrian news outlet Eye on the Homeland.
In Yemen, a U.S. drone strike has killed three people identified by Yemeni officials as alleged al-Qaeda fighters. The victims were driving in a vehicle around the town of Habban. Sunday’s strike came after another U.S. drone attack killed two other people alleged to be al-Qaeda members in Yemen’s Marib province on Saturday.
A small rodent from Australia has become the first known mammal to go extinct due to human-caused climate change. In a new report, scientists said they searched extensively for any trace of the rat-like rodent known as the Bramble Cay melomys, whose only known habitat was a tiny island off the coast of Australia. Researchers said the root cause of its extinction was sea level rise from climate change.
In another climate milestone, a study projects levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere will smash the threshold of 400 parts per million this year and not fall below it again in our lifetimes. The 400-parts-per-million threshold has been an important marker in U.N. climate negotiations, widely recognized as a dangerous level that could drastically worsen global warming. The environmentalist group 350.org takes its name after the 350-parts-per-million threshold that scientists say is the maximum atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide for a safe planet.
And in California, a juror has written to Judge Aaron Persky to say he is “absolutely shocked and appalled” by the six-month sentence he gave to the former Stanford swimmer who raped an unconscious woman. Brock Allen Turner was found guilty of three felony counts of sexual assault after two witnesses caught him on top of the woman last year. But Judge Persky sentenced him to only six months in county jail—which will likely be reduced to three months under good behavior—saying a longer term could have a “severe impact” on him. In a letter published by Palo Alto Weekly, the juror writes, “We were unanimous in our finding of the defendant’s guilt and our verdicts were marginalized based on your own personal opinion.” A letter written by Turner’s victim has gone viral, drawing praise from prominent figures including Vice President Joe Biden, who wrote to her in an open letter, “I do not know your name—but I will never forget you.”