Omar Mateen, an American-born man from Fort Pierce, Florida, pledged allegiance to ISIS Sunday, prior to killing 49 people and wounding 53 others in a mass shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando.
According to authorities, the terror attack was the deadliest on American soil since 9/11.
The FBI interviewed Mateen, 29, in both 2013 and 2014, but authorities said he had not been found to be a threat at the time.
“Those interviews turned out to be inconclusive, so there was nothing to keep the investigation going,” FBI Assistant Special Agent Ronald Hopper stated.
According to officials, Mateen called 911 to pledge allegiance to ISIS early Sunday morning, and also praised the Boston Marathon bombers during the attack.
Following a three-hour standoff with the gunman, police drove into the building with an armored vehicle, killing Mateen, and putting an end to his shooting rampage in Pulse nightclub.
Police said Mateen, who had been working as a security guard since 2007, had been wielding an assault rifle, and a pistol during the shooting, which he’d purchased legally within the past two weeks.
“This is an especially heartbreaking day for all our friends — our fellow Americans — who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender,” President Barack Obama stated following the massacre. “Today marks the most deadly shooting in American history. The shooter was apparently armed with a handgun, and a powerful assault rifle. This massacre is therefore a further reminder of how easy it is for someone to get their hands on a weapon that lets them shoot people in a school, or in a house of worship, or a movie theater, or in a nightclub. And, we have to decide if that’s the kind of country we want to be. And, to actively do nothing is a decision as well.”
Multiple Islamic groups and religious leaders have also denounced the attack.
“This is a hate crime, plain and simple,” the Council on American Islamic Relations’ national communications director Ibrahim Hooper stated. “We condemn it in the strongest possible terms.”
In addition, “We condemn such heinous acts by individuals or groups who have no regard for the sanctity of human life,” Oussama Jammal, the secretary general of the US Council of Muslim Organizations, stated.
State and local officials have also released the following statements regarding the shooting:
“On behalf of all New Yorkers, our thoughts and prayers are with the victims, the injured, and their loved ones during this unimaginably difficult time,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo stated. “…This is just one more horrific reminder of the need for Congress to pass real and sensible gun safety legislation, just as we did in New York. It is far past time for Washington to act.”
“I would like to express my support and my condolences to Mayor Buddy Dyer, and all the families who were affected in this tragedy,” Mayor Lovely Warren stated. “I urge all of Rochester to join me as we keep our friends in Orlando in our thoughts and prayers. As a nation, we cannot allow our sense of security to be weakened. We must stand, resilient, for each other, and for Orlando.”
“Monroe County mourns the horrific loss of life in today’s deliberate, brutal, and cowardly attack in Orlando, Florida,” Monroe County Executive Cheryl Dinolfo stated. “Our thoughts and prayers go out to the victims, their loved ones, and the entire Orlando community in the wake of today’s terrorist attack.”
Flags at both the White House and state buildings in New York, and across the country, have been lowered to half-staff in memory of the victims.