Orlando gunman likely 'radicalized' through internet, US says

Before you go, we thought you'd like these...

FBI Says Orlando gunman had "indications of radicalization"

ORLANDO, Fla., June 13 (Reuters) - U.S. authorities said on Monday they had found no direct links between Islamic State militants and the gunman who killed 49 people at a gay nightclub in Orlando, describing him as a homegrown extremist who was inspired by radical Islamist groups.

The FBI and other agencies were still looking at evidence inside the club and on the closed-off streets around the Pulse nightclub, where New York-born Omar Mateen perpetrated the worst mass shooting in modern U.S. history.

Mateen, 29, the son of Afghan immigrants, was shot and killed by police who stormed the club with armored cars early on Sunday morning after a three-hour siege.

See photos of Mateen:

7 PHOTOS
Omar Mateen, suspected Orlando nightclub shooter
See Gallery
Orlando gunman likely 'radicalized' through internet, US says
Photo credit: MySpace
Photo credit: MySpace
Photo credit: MySpace
Photo credit: MySpace
Photo credit: MySpace
Photo credit: MySpace
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE
SHOW CAPTION +
HIDE CAPTION

"So far, we see no indication that this was a plot directed from outside the United States and we see no indication that he was part of any kind of network," FBI Director James Comey said in Washington. "We're highly confident this killer was radicalized at least in some part through the internet."

The bloody rampage reverberated on the presidential campaign trail, where presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton, his likely opponent in the Nov. 8 election, clashed over how to confront violent Islamist extremists.

Trump proposed to suspend immigration to the United States from countries with a proven history of terrorism, while Clinton warned against demonizing Muslims and called for tougher gun safety measures.

The Florida rampage began about 2 a.m. on Sunday (0600 GMT) when the club was packed with some 350 revelers. Many fled as the gunman raked the crowd with bullets from an AR-15-style semiautomatic rifle and a pistol.

An initial wave of officers charged into the club and trapped Mateen in a bathroom, Orlando Police Chief John Mina told reporters. That allowed many patrons to flee, although others were trapped in the restroom with Mateen, leading to the standoff.

See the victims of the deadly shooting:

56 PHOTOS
Orlando shooting victims
See Gallery
Orlando gunman likely 'radicalized' through internet, US says
ORLANDO, USA - JUNE 13: Pictures of one of the massacre victims left at a make shift memorial at Phillips Center for the Performing Arts in Orlando, USA on June 13, 2016. (Photo by Samuel Corum/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
ORLANDO, USA - JUNE 13: Pictures of one of the massacre victims left at a make shift memorial at Phillips Center for the Performing Arts in Orlando, USA on June 13, 2016. (Photo by Samuel Corum/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
People wave rainbow flags and hold portraits on the Place de la Comedie in Montpellier on June 13, 2016 as they pay homage to the victims of a shooting at a gay nighclub in Orlando. / AFP / SYLVAIN THOMAS (Photo credit should read SYLVAIN THOMAS/AFP/Getty Images)
Since he was a boy, Anthony Luis Laureano Disla loved to dance. Early Sunday morning, he was dancing and laughing with his friends at Pulse nightclub in Orlando when a gunman stormed and shot him. Laureano Disla was 25. His obituary is linked in our bio. #PulseShooting #OrlandoUnited #PrayForOrlando #OrlandoStrong
Luis Daniel Wilson-Leon moved from Puerto Rico to Vero Beach, longtime friend Daniel Gmys-Casiano said, and was immediately promoted to manager at a shoe store. He was a protector, confidant and hero, Gmys-Casiano said. Wilson-Leon died in the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando. He was 37. His obituary is linked in our bio. #PulseShooting #OrlandoUnited #PrayForOrlando #OrlandoStrong
Enrique L. Rios left his home in New York to spend the weekend celebrating a friend's birthday in Orlando. He was killed in the mass shooting at Pulse nightclub Sunday. He was 25. His obituary is linked in our bio. #PulseShooting #OrlandoUnited #PrayForOrlando #OrlandoStrong
To Jean Carlos Mendez Perez, good living was all about looking, smelling and feeling his best, loved ones said. He and his longtime partner, Luis Daniel Wilson-Leon, were together at Pulse nightclub early Sunday, and both were among the victims who died in the shooting. Perez was 35. His obituary is linked in our bio. #PulseShooting #OrlandoUnited #PrayForOrlando #OrlandoStrong
#PulseShooting victim Mercedez Marisol Flores lived "her life way she wanted to" https://t.co/UvRbZGXrkR https://t.co/XUavmANlgV
#PulseShooting victim Javier Jorge-Reyes had "a caring heart" https://t.co/nj8mHDAzj5 https://t.co/zEsCirT0tv
#PulseShooting victim Darryl Roman Burt II: The kind of person always willing to help https://t.co/XWZUMK3v96 https://t.co/P34dZLLTMI
#PulseShooting victim Jerald Arthur Wright: part of a tight-knit Disney family https://t.co/9VDSBbAtlM https://t.co/bqIHItjzMx
#PulseShooting victim Juan Chavez Martinez remembered as kind boss https://t.co/Q9LoBEzR9a https://t.co/750dJv1k9O
#PulseShooting victim Edward Sotomayor Jr.: Travel site brand manager mourned https://t.co/4WvuWpf1WO https://t.co/WnmtowrNv0
#PulseShooting victim Stanley Almodovar III: "Amazing person with a good soul" https://t.co/TptiBAC0F4 https://t.co/A8uTHkdIUv
#PulseShooting victim Kimberly 'KJ' Morris: Bouncer at nightclub always wore a smile https://t.co/Qhc11pIm7x https://t.co/xv6btN6fJt
#PulseShooting Juan Ramon Guerrero: Clubgoer went to Pulse with boyfriend https://t.co/2O1PtMLd7N https://t.co/ARI2JrhUNe
#PulseShooting victim Peter O. Gonzalez-Cruz called "wonderful cousin" https://t.co/2AimnbgmRl https://t.co/6HdUFZLxab
#PulseShooting victim Luis Vielma: Theme-park worker was "true friend" https://t.co/2ndLrp6fZ4 https://t.co/ZCHPkqdD9M
#PulseShooting victim Eric Ivan Ortiz Rivera: Always willing to help https://t.co/u4y9djGfjO https://t.co/50wYaYsxbi
#PulseShooting victim Eddie Justice texted his mother he loved her during shooting https://t.co/ncpWg3bTM8 https://t.co/3z9QlnfU0x
#PulseShooting victim Shane Evan Tomlinson had band performance just hours before he died https://t.co/V2FzgWVDL1 https://t.co/04nrIfjBr8
#PulseShooting victim Miguel Angel Honorato was Apopka father of 3 https://t.co/pL3ODPKbRl https://t.co/CWGl3RWl7s
#PulseShooting victim Jason Josaphat was a soft-spoken teen excited for the journey ahead https://t.co/CGfustjw4R https://t.co/0mB4Lw60ok
#PulseShooting victim Amanda Alvear wouldn't want hate spread in her name https://t.co/jlck4GCni6 https://t.co/gGcewMqAT4
#PulseShooting victim Brenda Lee Marquez McCool was a mother of of 12 https://t.co/9g6UQvQody https://t.co/8KxnRPduPH
#PulseShooting victim Christopher Sanfeliz was a bank worker from Tampa https://t.co/NmZVLzkNn0 https://t.co/kaNE6htcrm
#PulseShooting victim Simon Carrillo was a good boss who loved to travel https://t.co/TjVwcyYxPS https://t.co/HfBeklS9gJ
Shooting victim Jean Carlos Nieves Rodriguez: 'Whatever you needed, you could count on him' https://t.co/AzS8r3WAgm https://t.co/mcTW41S1Pp
#PulseShooting victim Christopher Leinonen was a gay rights activist https://t.co/C9pcRIBWPt https://t.co/uRM6d1zWGM
#PulseShooting victim Jonathan Camuy: Great employee of @LaVozKids on @telemundo https://t.co/5yiEe8CplH https://t.co/xx5Gg5ekBm
Soft-spoken teen #PulseShooting victim Jason Josaphat was excited for the journey ahead https://t.co/YBi6yenkPP https://t.co/JwckpTI6Yq
#PulseShooting victim Gilberto Silva was "light, life" of family https://t.co/yhWMunChQ4 https://t.co/nrw6SqEJFV
#PulseShooting victim Oscar Aracena returned from vacation a day before he died https://t.co/V2nomox0ax https://t.co/XWQc98bCMg
#PulseShooting victim Tevin Eugene Crosby was a hardworking business owner https://t.co/D9qYDR0Y6z https://t.co/40nqriye7J
Leroy Valentin Fernandez was a natural performer. His zeal for life spilled offstage and f… https://t.co/KBjpemnGZZ https://t.co/IsN5w1DHJz
The last image friends have of Omar Capo shows the 20-year-old doing what he loves: Dancin… https://t.co/BiW5QRJLnY https://t.co/DvVjDt1tUS
Shane Evan Tomlinson sang with his band Frequency Saturday night at Blue Martini nightclub… https://t.co/m1Q0oQGKRG https://t.co/wSQnGsiT7G
Oscar A Aracena-Montero, 26 "He was the type of guy who goes along with anybody." https://t.co/zpe4iKKR74
Rodolfo Ayala-Ayala, 33, worked at a blood donation center and "loved to dance salsa" https://t.co/VyBRWl9l6t https://t.co/wRhlZrIrPC
#PulseShooting victim Angel Luis Candelario-Padro was in Orlando to start a new life https://t.co/FkaTvfPMIs https://t.co/DqvGJpGiKB
YOU MATTERED❤@TheTalkSoup: Cory James Connell, 21, #PulseNightclub #Orlando #victims https://t.co/nyEsvomYgx
Deonka Deidra Drayton, 32, worked at Pulse, her aunt called her murder "senseless" https://t.co/VyBRWl9l6t https://t.co/pf9vQjWRCB
We won't let you go unheard, Paul Terrell Henry, 41 years old #PulseShooting https://t.co/nsODtqcACR
Franky Jimmy Dejesus Velazquez, 50 years old. Rest in Peace. 🌈❤️ https://t.co/GsIWQRyASa
Christopher Andrew Leinonen, 32, was with his boyfriend, Juan Guerrero, 22, at the club https://t.co/jnYLtN81jR https://t.co/aq5vjFpLBU
Akyra Murray -- 18 -- Just graduated. Star basketball player (1,000 points in her career). #6of49 #WeSpeakYourName https://t.co/YxPQmYXAtj
Joel Rayon Paniagua, 32, "was always trying to do stuff to make you feel better" https://t.co/VyBRWl9l6t https://t.co/wXdWWe9eaq
#RIP Martin Benitez Torres, 33, from Puerto Rico was in Orlando with family. https://t.co/mPS4myjcaz #WeAreOrlando https://t.co/k4DOxGUaS3
R.I.P. Alejandro Barrios Martinez, 21 years old #PulseShooting https://t.co/B0C4xnZ8Zq
Xavier Emmanuel Serrano Rosado, 35, had a son and worked at Disney Live! https://t.co/jnYLtN81jR https://t.co/g7fMhsC2ui
Juan P. Rivera Velazquez, 37, was the owner of D’Magazine Salon and Spa: https://t.co/jnYLtN81jR https://t.co/zbClVeAGBO
#RIP Juan P. Rivera Velazquez, 37 and Luis Conde, 39, were together 13 years. https://t.co/mPS4myjcaz #WeAreOrlando https://t.co/lONiiHf735
#Remembertheirnames Yilmary Rodriguez Solivan https://t.co/Bjt30oeTJl #OrlandoStrong https://t.co/H0D4GY0e2A
Be thou at peace: @USArmyReserve CPT Antonio Davon Brown, Iraq/Afg vet, killed in #Orlando https://t.co/Zgg9v6TMye https://t.co/DPVtlDUuD6
Rest In Peace handsome, Geraldo A. Ortiz-Jimenez, 25 years old #PulseShooting https://t.co/b69fXb2j7L
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE
SHOW CAPTION +
HIDE CAPTION

"We were able to save and rescue dozens and dozens of people," Mina said. Police negotiated with Mateen for about three hours before breaking a hole in the wall, which allowed hostages to escape.

Mateen also emerged from the hole and was shot to death by officers, police said.

Officials said on Sunday the death toll was 50. On Monday, they clarified that the figure included Mateen. Some 53 people were wounded and 29 remain hospitalized at Orlando Regional Medical Center, the hospital said on Twitter.

Pastor Deyni Ventura of Sanford said she visited a survivor in the hospital, whom she identified only as Norman, who had taken refuge in a handicapped bathroom stall crammed with 30 people.

LAUGHTER AND GUNFIRE

He could hear the shooter laughing loudly as he sprayed gunfire over and under the bathroom stall. "They couldn't see the shooter but they could hear him laughing," Ventura said, intimating a loud cackling laugh.

Norman, who was shot four times, crawled over the bodies of his friends to safety. Everyone else in the stall died, Ventura said.

"He told his friends to leave but they were scared and stayed in the stall - and all died," she said.

Other family members were desperate for news about their missing loved ones.

Julissa Leal, 18, and her mother drove to Orlando from Lafayette, Louisiana, in search of her brother, Frank Hernandez, 27. They knew he was at the club with his boyfriend, who lost him in the chaos.

"We haven't heard anything, don't know anything," Leal said, fighting back tears. "I'm going to see him again. I'm going to see him again."

During phone calls with authorities in the middle of the rampage, Mateen mentioned support for the leader of Islamic State, the Boston Marathon attackers and a Florida man who became an al Nusra Front suicide bomber in Syria, Comey said. Al Nusra is an al Qaeda offshoot at odds with Islamic State.

Law enforcement officials searched for clues as to whether anyone had worked with Mateen on the attack, said Lee Bentley, the U.S. attorney for the middle district of Florida.

"There is an investigation of other persons. We are working as diligently as we can on that," Bentley told a news conference. "If anyone else was involved in this crime, they will be prosecuted."

Officials said they believed there had been no other attackers and had no evidence of a threat to the public.

STRONG ANTI-GAY FEELINGS

Mateen's father said his son was not radicalized but indicated the gunman had strong anti-gay feelings. His ex-wife described him as mentally unstable and violent toward her.

Islamic State reiterated on Monday a claim of responsibility, but that did not mean it had directed the attack because it offered nothing to indicate coordination with the gunman.

President Barack Obama denounced the attack as "an act of terror and an act of hate."

"As far as we can tell right now, this is certainly an example of the kind of homegrown extremism that all of us have been so concerned about for a very long time," he told reporters at the White House.

Leading U.S. Senate Democrats urged quick reconsideration of legislation defeated last year to impose additional gun controls. Four Democratic senators, led by Chuck Schumer of New York, the No. 2 Senate Democrat, called for immediate passage of a bill preventing people on terror watch lists and other "suspected terrorists" from buying firearms or explosives.

The carnage early on Sunday occurred in the heart of Orlando, about 15 miles (25 km) northeast of the Walt Disney World Resort. The city is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the United States, drawing some 62 million visitors a year.

FATHER: 'I DON'T FORGIVE HIM'

Mateen was an armed guard at a gated retirement community, and had worked for the global security firm G4S for nine years. He had cleared two company background screenings, the latest in 2013, according to G4S..

Mateen's father, Seddique Mir Mateen, said in an interview at his home in Port St. Lucie, Florida, that he was angered by his son's actions.

"Even though he is my son I admit this is terrorist act. This is terrorizing. I don't forgive him," the father said. "If you see his wife, what she is going through his poor wife and his son 3-1/12 years old, such a nice son, he should've thought about that."

Authorities said on Sunday that Mateen had been twice questioned by Federal Bureau of Investigation agents in 2013 and 2014 after making comments to co-workers about supporting militant groups, but neither interview led to evidence of criminal activity.

Mateen visited Saudi Arabia in 2011 and 2012 for religious pilgrimages, a government spokesman said on Monday.

Comey said authorities know what kind of cellphone Mateen used, but he declined to identify what type it was or whether the FBI has gained access to it. A CBS reporter, in a tweet, reported the shooter used a Samsung phone and that law enforcement had gotten into Mateen's computer.

The attack came six months after a married couple in California - a U.S.-born son of Pakistani immigrants and a Pakistani-born woman he married in Saudi Arabia - killed 14 people at an office holiday party in San Bernardino. The couple, who were inspired by Islamic State, died in a shootout with police hours after the mass shooting.

(Additional reporting by Barbara Liston and Yara Bayoumy in Fort Pierce, Fla., Zachary Fagenson in Port St. Lucie, Fla., Fiona Ortiz in Chicago, Omar Fahmy in Cairo, Michelle Martin in Berlin and Susan Heavey, Megan Cassella, David Alexander and Jonathan Landay in Washington; Writing by Scott Malone and John Whitesides; Editing by Bill Trott and Peter Cooney)

Read Full Story

People are Reading