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.