The shooter has been identified as Omar Saddiqui Mateen, two law enforcement officials told CNN. The suspect is from Fort Pierce, Florida, officials say. Mateen is believed to be 29 years old. He is a U.S. citizen born in 1986 in New York, according to a U.S. official. His parents are originally from Afghanistan, the official said.
He was shot and killed by Orlando police in an operation to free hostages he was said to be holding. It was suspected that he had a device strapped to his body, law enforcement sources said.
Mateen was investigated by the FBI in the past for possibly having ties or being a sympathizer to Islamic extremism, according to a law enforcement official and a U.S. official. The law enforcement official told CNN that there were two cases opened on Mateen. The U.S. official said Mateen was not the main subject of at least one of those investigations. The investigations didn’t find evidence to charge him with anything.
In the past two weeks Mateen legally purchased a Glock pistol, found at the shooting scene, from a St. Lucie County area gun store, the law enforcement official said. He worked as a security guard, which allowed him to have a firearms license that meant minimal background checks when he bought guns.
The U.S. official said investigators have talked to Mateen’s family, who indicated he had expressed anti-gay feelings in the past.
Private security guard
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.
FBI teams and local law enforcement are working to clear Mateen’s apartment, a federal law enforcement source said.
Agents are going through the apartment with bomb squads and investigating the materials there, 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 to 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.