ORLANDO (AP) — All 49 victims of a mass shooting at a nightclub in Orlando have been identified, and Channel 9 has found out that two men were from the Charlotte area.
Tevin Crosby, 25, was from Statesville and Shane Tomlinson, 33, was from Concord.
The gunman whose attack on a gay nightclub left 49 victims dead appears to have been a "homegrown extremist" who espoused support for a jumble of often-conflicting Islamic radical groups, the White House and the FBI said Monday.
As city officials notify families of those who died, they will update the website with more names:
- Edward Sotomayor Jr., 34 years old
- Stanley Almodovar III, 23 years old
- Luis Omar Ocasio-Capo, 20 years old
- Juan Ramon Guerrero, 22 years old
- Eric Ivan Ortiz-Rivera, 36 years old
- Peter O. Gonzalez-Cruz, 22 years old
- Luis S. Vielma, 22 years old
- Kimberly Morris, 37 years old
- Eddie Jamoldroy Justice, 30 years old
- Darryl Roman Burt II, 29 years old
- Deonka Deidra Drayton, 32 years old
- Alejandro Barrios Martinez, 21 years old
- Anthony Luis Laureanodisla, 25 years old
- Jean Carlos Mendez Perez, 35 years old
- Franky Jimmy Dejesus Velazquez, 50 years old
- Amanda Alvear, 25 years old
- Martin Benitez Torres, 33 years old
- Luis Daniel Wilson-Leon, 37 years old
- Mercedez Marisol Flores, 26 years old
- Xavier Emmanuel Serrano Rosado, 35 years old
- Gilberto Ramon Silva Menendez, 25 years old
- Simon Adrian Carrillo Fernandez, 31 years old
- Oscar A Aracena-Montero, 26 years old
- Enrique L. Rios, Jr., 25 years old
- Miguel Angel Honorato, 30 years old
- Javier Jorge-Reyes, 40 years old
- Joel Rayon Paniagua, 32 years old
- Jason Benjamin Josaphat, 19 years old
- Cory James Connell, 21 years old
- Juan P. Rivera Velazquez, 37 years old
- Luis Daniel Conde, 39 years old
- Shane Evan Tomlinson, 33 years old
- Juan Chevez-Martinez, 25 years old
- Jerald Arthur Wright, 31 years old
- Leroy Valentin Fernandez, 25 years old
- Tevin Eugene Crosby, 25 years old
- Jonathan Antonio Camuy Vega, 24 years old
- Jean C. Nives Rodriguez, 27 years old
- Rodolfo Ayala-Ayala, 33 years old
- Brenda Lee Marquez McCool, 49 years old
- Yilmary Rodriguez Sulivan, 24 years old
- Christopher Andrew Leinonen, 32 years old
- Angel L. Candelario-Padro, 28 years old
- Frank Hernandez, 27 years old
- Paul Terrell Henry, 41 years old
- Antonio Davon Brown, 29 years old
- Christopher Joseph Sanfeliz 24 years old
- Akyra Monet Murray, 18
- Geraldo A. Ortiz-Jimenez, 25
When Heather Brooks heart two of the victims in the nightclub shooting were from the Charlotte area, she gathered nearly a dozen friends to to a vigil in East Carolina University.
Tomlinson was a alumnus of the school.
Jacqueline Scott remembered Crosby, who was a West Iredell High School graduate. She taught him high school English.
"He was one of our unsung heroes," she said. "He was the type that would go out of his way to help people just because it was the right thing to do."
Brooks hopes the families of the victims will receive comfort knowing thousands all over the world are gathering to remember their loved ones.
"It brings a little joy in the dark time to know there are a few lights that want to come together and shine on this issue of hate," she said.
As Orlando mourned its dead with flowers, candles and vigils, counterterrorism investigators dug into the background of 29-year-old Omar Mateen, the American-born Muslim who carried out the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history.
"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," said FBI Director James Comey. But he said Mateen was clearly "radicalized," at least in part via the internet.
Comey said the bureau is also trying to determine whether Mateen had recently scouted Disney World as a potential target, as reported by People.com, which cited an unidentified federal law enforcement source.
"We're still working through that," Comey said.
The FBI chief defended the bureau's handling of Mateen during two previous investigations into his apparent terrorist sympathies. As for whether there was anything the FBI should have done differently, "so far, the honest answer is, I don't think so," Comey said.
Despite Mateen's pledge of fealty to the Islamic State, a murky combination of other possible motives and explanations emerged, with his ex-wife saying he suffered from mental illness and his Afghan-immigrant father suggesting he may have acted out of anti-gay hatred. He said his son got angry recently about seeing two men kiss.
The Orlando Sentinel and other news organizations quoted regular customers at the gay bar as saying they had seen Mateen there a number of times.
"Sometimes he would go over in the corner and sit and drink by himself, and other times he would get so drunk he was loud and belligerent," said Ty Smith. Smith said he saw the killer inside at least a dozen times.
Wielding an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle and a handgun, Mateen opened fire at Pulse Orlando early Sunday in a three-hour shooting rampage and hostage siege that ended with a SWAT team killing him. During the attack, he called 911 to profess allegiance to the Islamic State group.
At the White House, President Barack Obama said there is no clear evidence so far that Mateen was directed by the group, calling the attack an apparent example of "homegrown extremism." Obama is traveling to Orlando on Thursday to pay his respects to the victims and stand in solidarity with the community, the White House said Monday evening.
More details of the bloodbath emerged, with Orlando Police Chief John Mina saying Mateen was "cool and calm" during phone calls with police negotiators. But the chief said he decided to send the SWAT team in and bash through a wall after Mateen holed up with hostages in a bathroom and began to talk about bombs and an explosive vest.
"We knew there would be an imminent loss of life," Mina said. As it turned out, Mateen had no explosives with him.
Five of the wounded were reported in grave condition, meaning the death toll could rise. A call went out for blood donations.
In Orlando, mourners piled bouquets around a makeshift memorial, and people broke down in tears and held their hands to their faces while passing through the growing collection of flowers, candles and signs about a mile from the site of the massacre. Later Monday evening, thousands gathered near the site for a vigil held on the lawn of the Dr. Phillips Center, the area's main performing arts venue. Many in the crowd said they were inspired to attend because Pulse played a huge role in their lives as gays and lesbians.
"It was a place that a young 20-year-old who wasn't openly gay felt safe for the first time," said Cathleen Daus, now 36.
About 300 employees of the Red Lobster restaurant chain — some in business suits, some in chef's uniforms — emerged from the company's corporate headquarters and walked two-by-two across the street to the memorial, each carrying a red or white carnation.
"We will not be defined by the act of a cowardly hater," vowed Mayor Buddy Dyer, whose city of a quarter-million people is known around the globe as the home of Walt Disney World and other theme parks.
The tragedy hit the city's gay and Hispanic communities especially hard. It was Latino Night at the club when the attack occurred.
"As the names come out, they are overwhelmingly Latino and Hispanic names," said Christina Hernandez, a Hispanic activist. "These were not just victims of the LBGT community, but of the Hispanic community, as well. This was senseless bloodshed."
Mateen's grasp of the differences between Islamic extremist groups appeared shaky.
During three calls with 911 dispatchers, Mateen not only professed allegiance to ISIS but also expressed solidarity with a suicide bomber from the Syrian rebel group Nusra Front, and a few years ago he claimed connections to Hezbollah, too — both ISIS enemies, according to Comey.
The FBI became aware of Mateen in 2013 when co-workers reported that the private security guard claimed to have family connections to al-Qaida and to be a member of Hezbollah, too, Comey said. He was also quoted as saying he hoped that law enforcement would raid his apartment and assault his wife and child so that he could martyr himself.
The FBI launched a 10-month preliminary investigation, following Mateen, reviewing his communications and questioning him, the FBI chief said. Mateen claimed he made the remarks in anger because co-workers were teasing him and discriminating against him as a Muslim, and the FBI eventually closed the case, Comey said.
His name surfaced again as part of another investigation into the Nusra Front bomber. The FBI found Mateen and the man had attended the same mosque and knew each other casually, but the investigation turned up "no ties of any consequence," Comey said.
Mateen was added to a terror watch list in 2013 when he was investigated, but was taken off it soon after the matter was closed, according to Comey.
People who are in that database are not automatically barred from buying guns, and in any case Mateen purchased his weapons in June, long after he was removed from the list.
On Sunday, the bloodshed started after Mateen approached the club around 2 a.m., exchanged fire with an off-duty officer working security, and then went inside and started gunning people down, police said.
After two other officers arrived and exchanged gunfire with Mateen, the gunman holed up in a restroom with about five club-goers. An additional 15 to 20 were in another nearby bathroom, authorities said.
Hostage negotiators began talking to Mateen.
After Mateen began to talk about explosives, Mina made the decision around 5 a.m. to blow open a wall to the bathroom. The explosives didn't penetrate the wall completely, so an armored vehicle was used to punch a 2-by-3-foot hole. Dozens of people escaped, and Mateen was gunned down as he emerged through the hole, police said.
The Islamic State's radio hailed the attack and called Mateen "one of the soldiers of the caliphate in America." But it gave no indication the group planned or knew of the attack beforehand.
Counterterrorism experts have been warning in the past few years about the danger of so-called lone wolf attackers who act in sympathy with extremist groups like the Islamic State but are not directed by them.
Mateen's father, Seddique Mir Mateen, told reporters that the massacre was "the act of a terrorist," and added: "I apologize for what my son did. I am as sad and mad as you guys are."
He wouldn't go into details about any religious or political views his son held, saying he didn't know. Asked whether he missed his son, he said: "I don't miss anything about him. What he did was against humanity."
FBI director James Comey on Orlando nightclub shooter
FBI Director James Comey says the Orlando nightclub shooter espoused support for a jumble of often-conflicting Islamic organizations.
Comey says the gunman in the Orlando nightclub attack that killed 49 people had "strong indications of radicalization" and was likely inspired by foreign terrorist organizations.
He said that shooter called 911 during the attack and not only pledged loyalty to the Islamic State but also expressed solidarity with the Tsarnaev brothers who carried out the Boston Marathon bombing and a suicide bomber who died on behalf of the al-Nusra front, a group at odds with the Islamic State.
Comey says in the past few years, the gunman also expressed support for both al-Qaida and its enemy Hezbollah.
The FBI investigated Omar Mateen for 10 months beginning in May 2013 after he was said to have inflammatory remarks in support of terrorists.
Comey said investigators introduced him to confidential sources, followed him and reviewed some of his communications, but Mateen claimed he made the remarks in anger because co-workers were teasing and discriminating against him because he was Muslim.
As for whether the FBI should have done anything differently, Comey says so far he doesn't think so.
Hospital officials 'optimistic' on recovery of nightclub shooting victims
Hospital officials say they are "very optimistic" that the nightclub shooting victims being treated at Orlando Regional Medical Center will recover.
Orlando Health officials tweeted Monday that they no longer need to give "major amounts of blood" to shooting victims.
The hospital says many survivors had "multiple high-velocity" gunshot wounds and many in the intensive care unit no longer need ventilators to breathe.
The hospital holds weekly trauma simulations, along with periodic large-scale, city-wide simulations. Officials say the training left the hospital well-stocked for mass casualties.
The trauma medical director, Dr. Joseph Ibrahim, said the only thing he would change is that more victims could have gotten to the hospital sooner so that that they could have saved more people.
New details released on Orlando nightclub shooter
Court documents reveal new details about the life of the Orlando nightclub shooter.
The documents are in relation to Omar Mateen's petition to legally change his name in 2006, the same year he graduated from Indian River Community College.
The documents released Monday detail Mateen's various jobs and say he was born in Queens, New York, and moved to Port Saint Lucie in 1991. Between 2001 and 2006, he worked at eight jobs, including a Publix grocery store, Circuit City, Chick-Fil-A and a Walgreens drug store.
Then his jobs begin focusing more on vitamins and health. He worked at Nutrition World in Fort Pierce, Gold's Gym and a GNC store in a mall.
The records show that he changed his name from Omar Mir Seddique to Omar Mir Seddique Mateen. The documents don't say why he changed his name.
The 29-year-old Mateen was killed after he attacked a gay nightclub early Sunday. Forty-nine other people died in the attack.
The father of the Orlando nightclub shooter is calling his son's massacre "the act of a terrorist."
Seddique Mir Mateen gave a statement to reporters and answered a few questions Monday at his home in Port St. Lucie, Florida. On Sunday, the father suggested that his son's anti-gay hatred may have led to the rampage, saying his son got angry a few months ago when he saw two men kissing in Miami.
Mateen apologized for what his son did and said "I am as sad and mad as you guys are."
He wouldn't go into details about any religious or political views his son held, saying he didn't know.
Saudi Arabia's Interior Ministry says Orlando shooter Omar Mateen visited the kingdom twice to perform an Islamic pilgrimage.
Mateen had performed what is known as the umrah pilgrimage, a series of religious rites carried out in Mecca by millions of Muslims from around the world each year. This pilgrimage is shorter than the annual hajj.
Obama says there's no clear evidence connecting Orlando shooter with larger plot
President Barack Obama says there's no clear evidence that the shooter at an Orlando nightclub was directed to conduct his attack or part of a larger plot.
He says it appears the shooter was inspired by extremist information disseminated over the internet.
Obama says the investigation is at the preliminary stages and is being treated as a terrorism investigation. He says the attack appears to be similar to last year's shooting spree in San Bernardino, California.
The president says investigators are still looking into the motivations of the shooter, including the fact that the shooting took place at a gay venue.
Obama spoke in the Oval Office after getting briefed on the investigation by FBI Director James Comey, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson and other officials.
Charlotte Muslim community reacts to Orlando shooting
Mohammad Banawan, vice president with the Muslim-American Society, said the Orlando shooting was a hateful act.
"It's sad to see that an insane nobody, out of nowhere and does that act," Banawan said., "The silver lining in the clouds, so to speak, is that this gives us an opportunity to reach out farther, as we've done in the past to people of all faiths."
A former Florida police officer described the shooter, Omar Mateen, who was Muslim, as "unstable and unhinged."
Fellow employees said Mateen used slurs for blacks, Jews, women and gay people.
Banawan said people should be mindful of strange behavior.
"In any community," he said, "I hope in any church, synagogue, any mosque, the leaders of those communities are cogitate and observant of people that have odd behavior to address that behavior in a possible manner."
Banawan said while the Muslim community doesn't condone homosexuality, it does emphasize all lives should be protected and everyone should feel safe.
"If someone is homosexual, that's their right in this country to practice as they believe," he said. "But we treat them as human beings. We treat them (with) dignity and respect. We educate them as they educate us."
Banawan said the local Muslim community has been receiving love and support from others in the community. There will be an interfaith discussion Thursday at 7025 The Plaza.
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