Omar Mateen, who was shot dead by police after a three-hour stand-off at the Pulse club in Orlando early on Sunday, called 911 during his rampage to profess allegiance to various militant Islamist groups.
Federal investigators have said Mateen was likely self-radicalised and there was no evidence that he received any instruction or aid from outside groups such as Islamic State.
Mateen, 29, was a US citizen, born in New York of Afghan immigrant parents.
“He appears to have been an angry, disturbed, unstable young man who became radicalised,” President Barack Obama told reporters after a meeting of the National Security Council.
MSNBC reported, citing multiple unnamed sources, that Mateen’s current wife, identified by his family as Noor Mateen, told law enforcement officials that she drove him to multiple sites that he was considering attacking and was with him when he bought ammunition but she tried to talk him out of the attack.
Noor Mateen could not be reached for comment.
Omar Mateen’s father, Seddique Mateen, told reporters outside his home on Tuesday that he had seen his 3½-year-old grandson that day, but he declined to give information about Noor Mateen’s whereabouts.
One official familiar with the investigation, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said investigators were only beginning to delve into the contents of Mateen’s mobile phone and other electronic devices.
The source said investigators believe Mateen browsed militant Islamic material on the internet for two years or more before the Orlandoshootings.
Soon after the attack, Mateen’s father indicated that his son had harboured strong anti-gay feelings. He recounted an incident when his son became angry when he saw two men kissing in downtown Miami while out with his wife and son.
US officials were investigating media reports that Mateen may have been gay but not openly so, and questioning whether that could have driven his attack, according to two people who have been briefed regularly on the investigation and requested anonymity to discuss it.
The owner of Pulse, speaking through a representative, denied reports that Mateen had been a regular patron of the nightclub.
“Untrue and totally ridiculous,” Sara Brady, a spokeswoman for club owner Barbara Poma, said in an email when asked about the claim.
Mateen’s father told reporters on Tuesday that his son had never mentioned being homosexual. “I don’t believe he was a whatever you call it,” he said.
Obama noted that Mateen had used an assault rifle, and he called for a renewed federal ban on that kind of weapon.
Assault weapons were used in the San Bernardino shootings and in massacres in Aurora, Colorado and Newtown, Connecticut.
“Enough talking about being tough on terrorism,” Obama said.
“Actually be tough on terrorism and stop making it easy as possible for terrorists to buy assault weapons.”
Prior to Obama’s comments, the National Rifle Association said in an op-ed published by USA Today that gun laws did not deter terrorists.
“Radical Islamic terrorists are not deterred by gun control laws,” Chris Cox, executive director of the NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action, wrote. “The San Bernardino terrorist attack wasn’t stopped by California’s so-called ‘assault weapons’ ban.”
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