FBI: Gay nightclub shooter investigated for having ties to suicide bomber from Florida
Officials confirmed on Sunday that the suspect in the massacre that killed at least 50 people at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Fla., had previously been interviewed by the FBI, including once for potential ties to an American suicide bomber who was also from Florida.
In 2014, Omar Mateen was investigated over a connection to Moner Mohammad Abusalha, the first American to carry out a suicide attack in Syria.
Abusalha also lived in Fort Pierce, Florida, before heading to Syria where he detonated an explosive-laden truck near a restaurant believed to be populated with Syrian soldiers.
Images of suspected Orlando nightclub shooter:
Mateen has been on the FBI's radar since 2013 after he made "inflammatory comments to co-workers alleging possible terrorist ties."
However, officials ultimately determined the contact between Mateen and Abusalha was "minimal" and not a "substantive relationship or threat at that time," and closed the investigation.
Sunday's shooting marks the second time in recent years that the South Florida city has been the location of a terrorist actor.
Following the attack in Orlando, multiple homes in South Florida are being searched, including a complex in Fort Pierce and a home in Port Saint Lucie.
The suspect legally purchased at least two firearms "within the last week or so," before Sunday's shooting, according to Trevor Velinor, assistant special agent in charge at ATF.
Mateen was killed after exchanging fire with Orlando Police. Prior to the attack, Mateen reportedly called 911 and pledged his allegiance to ISIS.
BY: William Steakin