Federal investigators are pushing back against reports and speculation that Orlando gunman Omar Mateen had or was seeking homosexual relationships ahead of his rampage at a gay nightclub earlier this month.
Officials told both the Associated Press and Los Angeles Times this week that there is so far no concrete evidence to support claims that the 29-year-old killer used gay dating apps or had male lovers before killing 49 people and injuring 53 more at the Pulse nightclub early on June 12.
The claims appear to refute reports that several nightclub regulars had spotted Mateen at the club. Others have claimed that they had seen his profile on dating apps such as Grindr and Jack’d.
One man, wearing a disguise and calling himself “Miguel,” said in an interview with Univision this week that he had sex with Mateen multiple times. The gunman held a grudge against Puerto Ricans, the alleged lover said, following sessions of group sex after which one of the men told Mateen that he was HIV-positive.
Investigators have interviewed the man, the L.A. Times reported, but do not find his account credible.
Electronic data — including cell tower location information, text messages and mobile applications — have yielded little evidence that Mateen was interested in or tried to have sex with other men, according to the reports.
Mateen pledged allegiance to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) during a 911 call in the midst of the killing, according to a transcript released by the FBI last week. But officials say that he was not directed to carry out the violence by the extremist group and instead appeared to have radicalized on his own, partly through the internet.
The Orlando massacre is the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history and the deadliest act of terror since Sept. 11, 2001.
The case is an example of “lone wolf,” extremist-inspired attacks that have vexed federal officials in the U.S. over recent months, even as the government has proven adept at detecting larger, coordinated acts of violence.
The AP reported that the FBI has conducted 500 interviews as part of the ongoing investigation.