ORLANDO, Fla.—The FBI is investigating reports that Orlando gunman Omar Mateen had been a regular at the gay nightclub he attacked and had used gay dating apps, a U.S. official briefed on the case said today.
A number of possible explanations and motives for the bloodbath that left 49 victims dead have emerged, with Mateen professing allegiance to the Islamic State group, his ex-wife saying he was mentally ill, and his father suggesting he was driven by hatred of gays.
The picture grew more complex as patrons of the Pulse came forward to say that they had seen the 29-year-old American-born Muslim there a number of times or that he had been using gay dating apps.
Mateen had a wife and three-year-old son.
Jim Van Horn, 71, said Mateen was a regular at the club.
“He was trying to pick up people. Men,” Van Horn told The Associated Press.
While acknowledging he didn’t know Mateen well, Van Horn said: “I think it’s possible that he was trying to deal with his inner demons; of trying to get rid of his anger of homosexuality.”
Wielding an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle and a handgun, Mateen opened fire at the club early Sunday in a three-hour shooting rampage and hostage siege that ended with a SWAT team killing him.
It was the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history.
During the attack, he called 911 to profess allegiance to the Islamic State group.
Six of the more than 50 wounded were listed in critical condition today while five others were in guarded condition, Dr. Michael Cheatham of the Orlando Regional Medical Center said at a hospital news conference.
A choked-up Dr. Chadwick Smith described calling in additional staff members and telling them, “This is not a drill, this is not a joke.”
He said everyone answered: “I’ll be right there.”
U.S. President Barack Obama will visit Orlando on Thursday to pay his respects to the victims and stand in solidarity with the community, the White House said.