Orlando killer was ‘regular’ at gay club

Obama to pay respects as FBI carry out wider investigation.

The FBI is investigating reports that Orlando gunman Omar Mateen was a regular at the gay nightclub where he killed 49 people in America’s worst mass shooting.

A number of possible explanations and motives for the bloodbath have emerged, with Mateen having professed allegiance to Islamic State (IS), his ex-wife saying he was mentally ill, and others suggesting he was driven by a hatred of gays.

The picture grew more complex as patrons of the Pulse nightclub came forward to say that they had seen the 29-year-old American-born Muslim there a number of times, and that he had been using gay dating apps.

Mateen had an ex-wife and a three-year-old son.

Jim Van Horn, 71, said Mateen was a regular at the club. “He was trying to pick up people. Men,” he claimed.

While acknowledging he did not know Mateen well, Mr 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 on Monday in a three-hour rampage and hostage siege which ended with a Swat team killing him.

It is the deadliest mass shooting in modern US history. During the attack, Mateen called 911 to profess allegiance to IS.

Orlando killer was ‘regular’ at gay club

Six of the more than 50 people injured in the atrocity are said to be critically ill, with five others in a ‘guarded’ condition.

Michael Cheatham of the Orlando Regional Medical Center said at a hospital news conference that doctors recalled victims arriving in “truckloads” on the night of the rampage.

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.”

US president Barack Obama will visit Orlando tomorrow to pay his respects to the victims and stand in solidarity with the community, the White House said.

Asked about reports that Mateen may have been in the club before, his father, Seddique Mateen, said from his home in Port St Lucie, Florida, that his son may have been “scouting the place”.

Asked if his son was gay, the Afghan immigrant replied: “No.”

He said that he was not aware of his son having any mental health problems and that he never saw any signs he had become radicalised.

If he had seen anything differently, he said, “I would have called law enforcement immediately”.

The elder Mateen said that, apart from one occasion a few months ago on which his son got angry over seeing two men kissing, he did not witness any anti-gay behaviour from him.

The White House and the FBI said Mateen appears to be a “homegrown” extremist who had expressed support not just for IS, but for other radical groups that are its enemies.

“So far, we see no indication that this was a plot directed from outside the United States, and we see no indication that he was part of any kind of network,” FBI director James Comey said.

He said that Mateen was clearly “radicalised”, at least in part via the internet.

Mr Comey said the FBI also was trying to determine whether Mateen had recently scouted Disney World as a potential target.

Orlando killer was ‘regular’ at gay club

He defended the bureau’s handling of Mateen during two previous investigations in 2013 and 2014 into possible terrorist ties. As for whether there was anything the FBI should have done differently, Mr Comey said: “So far, the honest answer is, I don’t think so.”

Mateen was added to a terror watchlist in 2013 when he was investigated, but was taken off it soon after the matter was closed, according to Mr Comey. People on that database are not automatically barred from buying guns. Mateen purchased his weapons in June, long after his removal from the list.

On Monday night, about a mile from Pulse in central Orlando, thousands gathered for a vigil to support the victims and survivors, with the names of the dead read aloud.

The event was held on the lawn of Orlando’s main performing arts venue.

Company that hired gunman made several gaffes

Leonora Beck    

The security company that employed the gunman in the Orlando nightclub massacre has been tarred by a series of blunders and scandals that have raised questions about its competency and ethics.

London-based G4S acknowledged that Omar Mateen, whose rampage left 49 victims dead and more than 50 wounded, worked for the firm at a residential community in south Florida.

The ties to the man behind the worst mass shooting in modern US history is the latest cloud to loom over G4S. Concerns that the fallout from Mateen’s attacks might make it harder for G4S to get security contracts contributed to a 5% decline in the company’s stock.

Founded in Denmark more than 100 years ago, G4S entered the US market in a big way in 2002 with its purchase of The Wackenhut Corp, the country’s second-largest security services firm at the time. The Wackenhut name was dropped a few years ago.

G4S is now the world’s largest security company, measured by employees. It has 610,000 workers, including about 50,000 in the US according to its website.

It earned £227m (€286m) on revenue of £6.4bn last year, excluding the businesses it is trying to sell or close. The company provides security for sports and rock stars, in addition to 40 US embassies and 32 juvenile justice detention facilities in the US, including 28 residential centres in Florida.

In recent years, though, G4S has had trouble protecting its own reputation.

It created a huge headache during the 2012 London Olympics when it did not deliver the number of security guards promised in its contract. The British military had to be called in to fill the gap, forcing G4S to help cover the costs.

G4S came under fire again in 2013 when it and a competitor overbilled the UK government for the electronic tagging of criminals. The scandal cost G4S £116m in settlement charges and £45m in lost profits.

In a mortifying gaffe, G4S staff in 2011 attached an electronic monitoring tag to the false leg of a criminal, who could remove the prosthetic — and the tag — during his court-ordered curfew.

While still operating as Wackenhut in 2007, the company lost security contracts at 10 nuclear power plants run by Exelon Corp. The termination came after a Wackenhut employee at the Peach Bottom plant in Pennsylvania videotaped fellow security guards frequently sleeping on the job and turned the tapes over to a TV station.

In Florida, G4S has faced allegations of inadequate training and screening of workers in some of its juvenile residential centres.

Lawrence Marraffino, a Gainesville attorney who filed two lawsuits against the state and G4S’s Youth Services unit in 2009 and 2012, said he found high turnover and low pay among employees at the facilities.

Because G4S does not want to lose potential employees, it did not do extensive checks on those involved in the lawsuits, he said.

“They’re pretty desperate to hire people,” Mr Marraffino said. “They would just get records from their prior employers” without doing law enforcement checks.

G4S defended its handling of Mateen.

The company said he underwent a detailed screening process when he was recruited in 2007 and again in 2013 during a periodic review process with “no adverse findings.” It also mentioned that Mateen underwent a review by a US law enforcement agency in 2013 without anything troublesome being reported.

In its statement, G4S said it is co-operating with US authorities.

Obama to visit and stand in solidarity with community

Kathleen Hennessy    

US president Barack Obama will travel to Orlando tomorrow to pay respects to the victims of last weekend’s nightclub shooting and to stand in solidarity with the community as it embarks on recovery.

Press secretary Josh Earnest did not provide any more details about the trip.

Mr Obama had cancelled what was to be his first campaign event with presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton in the wake of the shooting at a gay nightclub that killed 49 and wounded dozens more.

The role of consoler-in-chief is not a new one for Mr Obama, who has travelled to Newtown, Connecticut, Charleston, South Carolina, and other places to meet with families who have lost loved ones to gun violence.

He has called the Orlando massacre an act of terrorism and an act of hate. He noted that the site of the shooting was more than a nightclub, calling it a place where people came to raise awareness, speak their minds, and advocate for their civil rights.

Mr Obama has met with his National Security Council to get an update on the US-led campaign against the Islamic State (IS) group.

He was expected to get an update on the investigation into the Orlando massacre and whether shooter Omar Mateen’s was inspired by the group or other international networks.

He was also briefed on the effort to prevent what the White House describes as “lone wolf” attacks. He says thwarting those attacks is as difficult as fighting IS in the battlefield in Iraq and Syria.

The gathering of top officials at the Treasury Department was scheduled before Sunday’s mass shooting.

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