Orlando gunman Omar Mateen pledged allegiance to ISIS, official says
The gunman who killed 50 people at an Orlando gay nightclub pledged allegiance to ISIS and mentioned the Boston bombing in a 911 call, according to a U.S. official.
Suspect Omar Mateen made the call more than 20 minutes into the attack, a law enforcement official said.
Authorities haven’t officially released the gunman’s name, but several law enforcement officials have identified him to CNN as Mateen.
The 29-year-old, who was killed by police, is from Fort Pierce, Florida, the officials said.
Local and federal bomb squad teams entered Mateen’s apartment there Sunday afternoon as authorities tried to piece together details about the attack. Investigators haven’t revealed what they found there.
The gunman was born in New York, a U.S. official said, and his parents are originally from Afghanistan.
FBI investigated him before
The FBI had investigated Mateen for possibly having ties or being a sympathizer to Islamic extremism, according to a law enforcement officials and a U.S. official.
There were two cases opened on Mateen in the past, the law enforcement official told CNN.
The investigations didn’t find evidence to charge him with anything, the officials said.
Officials earlier said Mateen was one of hundreds of people on the agency’s radar suspected of being ISIS sympathizers. There was no indication he was plotting to carry out an attack, the officials said.
Mateen’s family told investigators he had expressed anti-gay feelings, a U.S. official said.
Armed with handgun, assault rifle
The gunman was armed with a handgun, an assault rifle and an unknown number of rounds when he attacked the Pulse nightclub, Orlando Police Chief John Mina told reporters.
In the past two weeks, Mateen legally purchased a Glock pistol found at the shooting scene from a St. Lucie County area gun store, a law enforcement official said.
A law enforcement source told CNN that Mateen worked as a private security guard. He rented a car and drove to Orlando to carry out the attack, the source said.
Police are also in the process of clearing the suspect’s vehicle, a van outside the nightclub, Mina said.
FBI: Radical leanings possible
While sources revealed some details about the suspect Sunday morning, authorities said they weren’t yet ready to release the suspect’s name officially.
In response to a question about whether the shooter may have had a connection to radical Islamic terrorism, FBI Assistant Special Agent in Charge Ronald Hopper said investigators are “looking into all angles right now.”
“We do have suggestions that that individual may have leanings toward that particular ideology but we can’t say definitively,” Hopper said.
Asked later by reporters why authorities were quick to point to terrorism rather than a hate crime, Hopper said more details would be revealed later.
“Early on, when we had possible identification made, we run everything to ground, whether it winds up being the actual individual or not. And so, as I mentioned earlier, I can’t say exactly who the suspect or deceased shooter is. Once we’re able to do that, once the notification is made, then more details will be able to be shared, most likely from our counterterrorism division up at FBI headquarters,” Hopper said.