Orlando shootings: ‘No clear evidence’ of IS link

Media captionThe BBC’s Laura Bicker explains how the shootings unfolded

There is no clear evidence that the Orlando gunman was directed by the so-called Islamic State group (IS), US President Barack Obama has said.

But the inquiry into the attack on the Pulse gay night club, in which 49 people were killed, is being treated as a terrorist investigation, he added.

The US authorities say gunman Omar Mateen pledged allegiance to IS shortly before the attack in Florida.

However, the extent of his links to IS remains unclear.

Speaking in Washington, the president said: “It does appear that at the last minute he [gunman Omar Mateen] announced allegiance to Isil [IS].

“But there is no evidence so far that he was in fact directed.

“This is certainly an example of the kind of home-grown extremism that all of us have been concerned about for a very long time.”

Live updates

How attacks unfolded

Who was Omar Mateen?

Orlando shooting: Special report

Media captionPresident Obama describes the Orlando attacker as an example of “home-grown extremism”

The deadliest mass shooting in recent US history ended when police shot Mateen dead. The attack also left 53 people injured.

Orlando Regional Medical Centre said on Monday that a number of the victims being treated there remained critically ill, and five patients were in a grave condition.

Image copyright
Getty Images

Image caption

Relatives arrived at a venue in Orlando to learn if their loved ones were killed in the shooting

The investigation

FBI Director James Comey said there were “strong indications of radicalisation” by the killer and of “potential inspiration by foreign terrorist organisations”.

In phone calls to the authorities from the nightclub, Mateen said he was carrying out the attack for IS but he also pledged allegiance to a suicide bomber for the al-Nusra Front group in Syria, and to the perpetrators of the Boston Marathon bombing, none of whom were linked to IS.

Investigators are going through the killer’s life, and especially his electronic devices, to try to understand his motivation, Mr Comey said.

The FBI director declined to use the gunman’s name, as “part of what motivates sick people to do this kind of thing” was a desire for fame, he said.

“We are also working to understand what role anti-gay bigotry played in this attack,” Mr Comey said.

Image copyright

Image caption

The FBI is leading the investigation into events in Florida

Mr Comey detailed his organisation’s prior contact with Mateen, and defended the FBI’s investigations into him.

“I don’t see anything in reviewing our work that our agents should have done differently,” Mr Comey said, while promising transparency over the issue.

What happened on the night?

Mateen began shooting inside the club around 02:00 (06:00 GMT) on Sunday, when the club was holding a Latin night and was packed with revellers.

An off-duty officer working fought Mateen in a gun battle before police reinforcements arrived.

Forced to retreat into a toilet, Mateen took hostages, Orlando police chief John Mina said.

Another 15 or so people were in another toilet, across the hallway, Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer said.

Believing Mateen would kill again imminently, police used explosives and an armoured vehicle to break through a wall of the building and survivors began streaming through the hole they had created.

Mateen himself followed them out shooting and was killed, police say.

Who were the victims?

Image copyright

Image caption

Clockwise from top left: Orlando shooting victims Edward Sotomayor, Stanley Almodovar, Luis Omar Ocasio-Ocampo, Juan Ramon Guerrero, Luis Vielma and Eric Ivan Ortiz-Rivera

So far, 36 victims have been named: 32 men and four women. They include:

  • Edward Sotomayor, 34, who worked for a company that organised gay cruises
  • Stanley Almodovar, 23, a pharmacy technician who was remembered as “kind and sassy”
  • Kimberly Morris, 37, who had only recently moved to Orlando and worked at Pulse as a bouncer
  • Luis Vielma, 22, who worked at the Harry Potter section at Universal Studios – author J K Rowling paid tribute to him online
  • Eddie Justice, 30, who sent his mother a series of text messages while inside the club – read more on him here

Read more on the victims here

LGBT community under siege

Cities around the world have been flying rainbow gay pride flags and illuminating buildings in solidarity with the victims of the shooting in Florida.

A London vigil was being planned for Old Compton Street in the heart of Soho.

Orlando shootings: ‘No clear evidence’ of IS link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *