Mateen, 29, of Fort Pierce, Fla.
Fifty-three more were wounded. But Mateen, who was born in New York, had also expressed solidarity with the Boston bombers and an American suicide bomber who belonged to an Al Qaeda affiliate in Syria opposed to Islamic State, Comey said.
Both groups oppose Islamic State and each other. Both investigations were closed without an arrest. Comey defended his agents' work but said the agency would still conduct a review. We hope that our fellow Americans will not let fear become disabling," Comey said. They have also obtained access to at least one email account, an official said, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss the investigation.
Nothing has come up yet suggesting ties to terrorist groups, but the official cautioned that the investigation was in its early stages. No issues involving encrypted data -- a major stumbling block in the investigation into the San Bernardino attacks -- have emerged, the official said. The official said it was clear from the evidence that Mateen's visit involved more than tourism, but cautioned that agents may never learn fully whether he was casing Disney properties for a potential attack.
He also is believed to have visited other gay venues to check out as potential targets, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity. He made that very clear. Zirkle said he and other students warned Mateen that he needed to stop. Mateen, he said, attended Spectrum Alternative School, a separate public school. He had people who were cordial with him or would ask him how he was doing.
Only a few people spoke to him. I was one of the few who would. The White House announced that President Obama would travel to Orlando on Thursday "to pay his respects to victims' families and to stand in solidarity with the community. As of midday Monday, all but two of the 49 slain victims had been publicly identified after notification of their families.
They were mostly Latino men. This is the heart of her downtown district. She and other officials have asked residents to hold off on staging a vigil until all the victims are identified. Mina outlined the police response during a Monday briefing near the nightclub, flanked by Florida Gov. Rick Scott, Dyer, federal investigators and prosecutors. The shooting was reported at 2: Sunday when an off-duty Orlando police officer at the club initially confronted Mateen near an entrance and the two engaged in a gun battle, Mina said.
When more police responded, additional officers entered the club and traded fire with the gunman. Mateen holed up with four to five hostages in a bathroom, while 15 to 20 more people were trapped in another bathroom nearby, Mina said. That's when police backed off.
Orlando gunman had used gay dating app and visited LGBT nightclub on other occasions, witnesses say
A team of negotiators arrived and began communicating with Mateen, who sounded "cool and calm," Mina said. Mina would not say whether Mateen appeared to be on a suicide mission.
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But police kept talking to him and shortly before 5 a. Officials decided to enter the building, Mina said, because, "there was a timeline given [by Mateen] and we believed there was an imminent loss of life. Police made an "explosive breach" into the building, then used an armored BearCat vehicle to punch a hole about 2 square feet in the wall so that dozens could escape, Mina said. Mateen also emerged from the hole, armed with a long gun and handgun, and confronted SWAT officers backed against a wall who returned fire, killing him, Mina said.
The police chief said Mateen did not shoot between the time he retreated to the bathroom and when police breached the building. Mina defended the decision to wait and attempt to negotiate with the shooter before police finally forced their way into the building.
Orlando shooting: Gunman was a regular at LGBT nightclub and used gay dating apps, say reports
It was a hard decision to make. We believe it was the right thing to do. We believe we saved many, many lives. Mateen bought both of the guns used in the attack, and a third weapon was recovered from Mateen's car, said Regina Lombardo, a special agent with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Officials would not identify the weapon found in the car or say whether any explosives were recovered from the scene.
Mateen bought his guns at the St.
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Lucie Shooting Center, owner Ed Henson told reporters in a televised news conference. Henson said Mateen was "familiar to me vaguely. I don't know him personally. President Obama said Monday that Mateen appeared to be "inspired by various extremist information that was disseminated over the Internet" but that investigators had found no evidence he was working with outside groups.
Islamic State proclaimed him as a member of the group through a media affiliate after the shooting. FBI agents closed their investigation into Mateen after concluding that he didn't understand how Al Qaeda operated and had not committed a crime. He told investigators that he had been lying and blustering about his terrorist ties. During the investigation, Mateen was placed on the FBI's terrorist screening database, an official said, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss an investigation.
Mateen was removed from that database after the bureau closed its investigation into him, an official said. In , agents again questioned Mateen after learning he had attended the same mosque as Moner Mohammad Abu-Salha, an American who later joined Islamic State and was killed in Syria. The FBI "determined that contact was minimal and did not constitute a substantive relationship or a threat at that time," Ronald Hopper, an FBI official, told reporters in Orlando. Some who knew the gunman described him as a practicing Muslim who spewed homophobic and racist slurs.
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But it still wasn't clear Monday what motivated Mateen to attack the nightclub. His father, Seddique Mateen, hosts a show on the satellite network Payam-e-Afghan TV about the national politics of his homeland. In new video posted on Facebook early Monday, he calls his son well-educated and respectful to his parents, saying that he was "not aware what complexities he had in his heart, and what caused him to go to this gay and lesbian club and shoot 50 people," he said in Dari, one of the two official languages of Afghanistan.
Seddique Mateen said he was saddened by his son's actions.
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