Investigators are looking into reports that the wife of 29-year-old Orlando gunman Omar Mateen had advanced knowledge of the mass shooting at a Florida gay nightclub that left 49 people dead, the Associated Press reported.
Several media outlets have reported, citing law enforcement officials on condition of anonymity, that Mateen and his wife, 30-year-old Noor, previously drove to the Pulse nightclub at least once. Investigators are currently trying to confirm these reports.
An official told the AP that the FBI will try to glean any data from Mateen’s phone to see if he had visited the nightclub before. Another official told ABC News that the wife said she tried to talk Mateen out of going through with the Sunday’s massacre, the deadliest in modern U.S. history.
Following the attack, details surrounding the gunman’s background began to emerge. His ex-wife, Sitora Yusufiy, described an abusive marriage to Mateen. Yusufiy told The New York Times that Mateen became verbally and physically abusive and was mentally unstable.
A regular at Pulse told the Los Angeles Times that he interacted with Mateen over the course of a year on the gay dating app Jack’d. Another witness told MSNBC that he recognized Mateen from the gay dating app Grindr.
The Orlando Sentinel reported on Monday that at least four witnesses had seen Mateen before at the nightclub. However, Pulse’s owner told Reuters today that he had no knowledge that Mateen was a regular customer.
Mateen called 911 dispatchers during the attack and pledged loyalty to the Islamic State group. FBI director James Comey said the agency had previously investigated Mateen on suspicions of terrorist connections, but the case remained inconclusive.
“There are strong indications of radicalization by this killer and of potential inspiration by foreign terrorist organizations,” Comey said Monday. “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.”
Earlier today, President Barack Obama said Mateen appeared to have been an angry, disturbed, unstable young man who became radicalized.”
“These lone actors or small cells of terrorists are very hard to detect and very hard to prevent,” the president said Tuesday. “But across our government at every level, federal, state and local, military and civilian, we are doing everything in our power to stop these kinds of attacks.”