The FBI is investigating reports that Orlando gunman Omar Mateen had been a regular at the gay nightclub he attacked and had used gay dating apps, a U.S. official briefed on the case said Tuesday.
A number of possible explanations and motives for the bloodbath that left 49 victims dead have emerged, with Mateen professing allegiance to the Islamic State group, his ex-wife saying he was mentally ill, and his father suggesting he was driven by a hatred of gays.
The picture grew more complex as patrons of the Pulse came forward to say that they had seen the 29-year-old American-born Muslim there a number of times or that he had been using gay dating apps. Mateen had an ex-wife and 3-year-old son.
Omar Mateen was once placed on the Selectee List of the FBI’s Terrorist Screening Database, which the bureau describes on its website as “a single database of identifying information about those known or reasonably suspected of being involved in terrorist activity.”
He was placed on the list while being investigated for 10 months starting in May 2013 for potential ties to terrorism. His co-workers reported to the FBI that he had scared them with talk of having family connections to Al Qaeda and being a member of another terror group. The FBI later concluded — after interviewing Mateen — that he was mostly full of bluster and had no such ties. Even so, during the investigation, he was added to the terror watch list and FBI agents would have received an alert if he had tried to buy firearms during that period. Being on the list would not have prevented those purchases, and he was removed shortly after the FBI closed its investigation in 2014.
About 42,000 people are in the overall Terrorist Screening Database, also known as the Terrorist Watchlist. About 98% of them are foreigners. About 16,000 of those in the database are on the Selectee List, a subset of potential terrorists deemed to be serious threats. Those on the Selectee List generally get a closer look from law enforcement during investigations and are subjected to additional screenings from airport security officials before getting on planes.
A YouTube video in which a Sacramento Baptist church pastor praised the massacre of 49 people at a gay nightclub in Florida and called the victims pedophiles and predators was removed Tuesday for violating the website’s policy on hate speech.
The videotaped sermon by Pastor Roger Jimenez of Verity Baptist Church touched off a firestorm shortly after it was posted on Sunday. In it, Jimenez said that when he learned the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history had occurred at a gay club, he wasn’t sad. In fact, he felt quite the contrary.
“I think Orlando, Fla., is a little safer tonight,” he told his congregation, equating members of the LGBT community to sexual predators. “The tragedy is more of them didn’t die…. I’m kind of upset he didn’t finish the job!”
Pres. Obama: "There's no magic to the phrase 'radical Islam.' It's a political talking point." https://t.co/BhIxCW0brj
— NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt (@NBCNightlyNews) June 14, 2016
President Obama accused Donald Trump of undermining American values through his proposals to ban Muslim immigrants from the country and said that such ideas were “doing the terrorists' work for them," as he issued his most direct attack to date on the presumptive Republican nominee.
“Are we going to start treating all Muslim Americans differently” than other citizens?" Obama asked. “Are we going to start discriminating against them because of their faith?”
If the U.S. goes down down that path “we would have betrayed the very things we’re trying to protect,” the president said.
President Obama called for lawmakers to reinstate the national assault weapons ban in a speech Tuesday about the shooting in Orlando, Fla. The attack was carried out with an AR-15-style semiautomatic rifle, by a gunman who pledged allegiance to Islamic State in a 911 call.
Stop making it as easy as possible for terrorists to buy assault weapons. Reinstate the assault weapons ban. Make it harder for terrorists to use these weapons to kill us.
The Orlando shooting was a direct attack on the LGBT community in a place they called their own, the American Civil Liberties Union said Tuesday, calling for state legislatures to shift focus from proposals the group sees as targeting the community.
“The massacre there was an attack on freedom in America,” said James Esseks, the director of the ACLU’s LGBT rights project. “It was also an attack specifically on LGBT people, and it happened in a context that has been a safe haven for LGBT people."
In the year since the Supreme Court ruled that same-sex marriage is legal nationwide, Esseks said, opponents have begun trying to use religious exemptions to pass laws “that would allow people to discriminate against LGBT people.”
Just days after the nation's worst mass shooting, the Journal of the American Medical Assn. published the findings of a study showing that between 2000 and 2013, injuries sustained by victims of firearms grew more severe and more deadly,
The study focused on close to 30,000 trauma patients who were treated at a single hospital system in Denver. Tracking the types and severity of traumatic injuries in patients brought to the hospital over 14 years, the new research found that the death rate for hospitalized gunshot victims climbed an average of 6% every two years.
The rising fatality rates occurred against the backdrop of gunshot wounds that were also escalating in severity. Over the study period, ambulances brought in an increasing number of firearms victims with two or more bullet wounds and injuries over more regions of their bodies.