WASHINGTON, June 13 (UPI) — President Barack Obama on Monday said there is “no clear evidence” that Omar Seddique Mateen, the accused Orlando nightclub gunman, was directed by the Islamic State or was part of a larger plot.
“First of all, our hearts go out to the families of those who have been killed. Our prayers go to those who have been wounded. This is a devastating attack on all Americans,” Obama said during a White House briefing. ”
The fact that it took place at a club frequented by the LGBT community I think is something that is relevant … It’s a reminder that regardless of race, religion, faith or sexual orientation — we’re all Americans, and we need to be looking after each other and protecting each other at all times in the face of this kind of terrible act.”
Authorities revealed 49 people were killed when the suspect opened fire at Orlando’s Pulse nightclub. The City of Orlando began releasing the names of victims Sunday after notifying next of kin.
“We see no clear evidence that he was directed externally. It does appear that at the last minute he announced allegiance to ISIL but there is no evidence so far that he was in fact directed. Also at this stage there is no direct evidence he was part of a larger plot,” Obama said, likening the Orlando massacre to the Dec. 12 San Bernandino, Calif., attack in which 14 people killed and 22 injured.
“It also appears that he was also able to obtain these weapons legally because he did not have a criminal record that in some ways would prohibit him from purchasing these weapons. It appears that one of those weapons he was able to just carry out of a store,” Obama said, identifying the weapon as an assault rifle.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives said Mateen used a “.223 caliber AR-type rifle and a 9mm semiautomatic pistol.”
Obama said the gunman had to wait for three days to get a handgun under Florida law.
“It does indicate the degree to which it was not difficult for him to obtain these kinds of weapons,” Obama added.