The FBI claims there is no evidence Omar Mateen, the gunman who murdered 49 and wounded 53 in a June massacre at the gay Pulse nightclub in Orlando, targeted the club due to its LGBT clientele, The Washington Post reported today.
“While there can be no denying the significant impact on the gay community, the investigation hasn’t revealed that he targeted pulse because it was a gay club,” a U.S. law enforcement official, not identified by name, told the paper.
According to the Post, "The assessment is based on interviews and an examination of his computer and other electronic media." Officials told the paper there was "nothing to suggest that he attempted to cover up his tracks by deleting files" and "added he did not make gay slurs during the shooting spree inside the club, based on witnesses."
In the days following the attack, several witnesses came forward stating that they had seen Mateen, 29, at Pulse previously or on gay dating apps such as Grindr. One man came forward to say he had a sexual relationship with Mateen, but the FBI told the Post none of these claims had been substantiated.
Still, in order to commit his crime, Mateen traveled nearly two hours from his home in Fort Pierce, Fla., in order to reach Pulse. According to Yelp, there are just 11 gay bars in the Orlando area, compared with 1,916 nongay bars. Could targeting a gay club nearly two hours from his home really be a coincidence?
Out Orlando City Council member Patty Sheehan expressed frustration with Republican Florida Gov. Rick Scott and Attorney General Pam Bondi, who were both quick to dismiss the act of violence as a hate crime.
“They said, ‘We’re not going to talk about guns, and we’re not going to talk about gays; this is an attack on all Americans,’” Sheehan told the Post. “That’s what they want the narrative to be, and that’s nonsense. We need to have hate crimes on the books for LGBT, and we need weapons of war off our streets.”
However, Attorney General Loretta Lynch, who also spoke out after the attack, could recognize that LGBT people were targeted.“People often act out of more than one motivation,” she said. “This was clearly an act of terror and an act of hate.”