FBI looking at whether Orlando gunman led a secret gay life
ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — The murky picture of Orlando gunman Omar Mateen grew more complex Tuesday with word that the FBI is investigating whether he had been a regular at the gay dance club he attacked and had been leading a secret life as a gay man.
As victims described the bloody horror of the massacre during a riveting hospital news conference, investigators continued to gather information on the 29-year-old American-born Muslim — and took a close look at his wife, too — for clues to the attack that left 49 victims dead.
An official who was briefed on the progress of the case but insisted on anonymity to discuss a continuing investigation said authorities believe Mateen’s wife knew about the plot ahead of time, but they are reluctant to charge her on that basis alone.
A number of possible explanations and motives for the bloodbath have emerged, with Mateen professing allegiance to the Islamic State group in a 911 call during the attack, his ex-wife saying he was mentally ill, and his father suggesting he was driven by hatred of gays.
On Tuesday, a U.S. official said the FBI is looking into a flurry of news reports quoting patrons of the Pulse as saying that Mateen frequented the nightspot and reached out to men on gay dating apps. The official was not authorized to discuss the investigation and spoke on condition of anonymity.
A night of terror at club Pulse: One young woman’s story
ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — Patience Carter lay bleeding on the floor of the bathroom in club Pulse. She recalled looking into the stall next to her, and seeing bloody handprints on the wall and people draped over a toilet. Some were dead, others moaned in agony. She turned her head to see her best friend, lifeless.
Then she heard the voice.
“Where is it?” the man demanded when he heard a ringing cell phone. “Give it up.”
She was safe now — reclining in a hospital chair, a white blanket draped over her lap and legs as she told her story Tuesday to a packed news conference at an Orlando hospital. Her words transported a rapt audience to the horrific moments of early Sunday, when a nightclub turned into a slaughterhouse.
Carter, a 20-year-old Philadelphian, was visiting Florida for the first time, vacationing with her two friends. Her friends’ parents drove them to Pulse that evening after they saw it had five-star reviews on Google. When they walked in, they started chatting with others immediately.
‘Not the America we want’: Obama blasts Trump’s Muslim plans
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama angrily denounced Donald Trump’s anti-Muslim rhetoric on Tuesday, blasting the views of the presumptive Republican presidential nominee as a threat to American security and a menacing echo of some of the most shameful moments in U.S. history.
Obama’s rebuke was his most searing yet of the man seeking to take his seat in the Oval Office. While the president has frequently dismissed Trump as a buffoon or a huckster, this time he challenged the former reality television star as a “dangerous” threat to the nation’s safety, religious freedom and diversity.
“That’s not the America we want. It does not reflect our democratic ideals,” Obama declared in remarks that had been scheduled as simply updating the public on the counter-Islamic State campaign.
Obama walked listeners through a familiar litany of battlefield successes, but then came another message. Growing more animated as he spoke, Obama said Trump’s “loose talk and sloppiness” could lead to discrimination and targeting of ethnic and religious minorities.
“We’ve gone through moments in our history before when we acted out of fear and we came to regret it,” Obama said. “We’ve seen our government mistreat our fellow citizens and it has been a shameful part of our history.”
Hillary Clinton wins DC primary, as she meets with Sanders
WASHINGTON (AP) — Hillary Clinton brought a close to the presidential primary season with a win Tuesday in the nation’s capital and a meeting with dispatched rival Bernie Sanders, hoping to set a tone of Democratic unity heading into next month’s party convention in Philadelphia.
Clinton’s win in the District of Columbia, the final primary of 2016, had no bearing on her role as the presumptive nominee, but it nevertheless marked a transition in the lengthy primary fight between the two rivals.
In virtually identical statements released after meeting for more than 90 minutes, the Clinton and Sanders campaigns said the two rivals discussed their primary campaign, “unifying the party and … the dangerous threat that Donald Trump poses to our nation.” Neither spoke to reporters after the session at a Washington, D.C., hotel a few blocks from the White House.
Clinton told Sanders she appreciated his commitment to stopping Trump in the general election and the two discussed issues in which they share common goals, including “raising wages for working families, eliminating undisclosed money in politics and reducing the cost of college for students and their families.” Both candidates agreed to work together on the development of the platform at the upcoming Democratic National Convention.
Before polls closed in Washington, where Clinton won with nearly 80 percent of the vote, Sanders vowed again to do all he can to prevent Trump, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, from reaching the White House — but he declined to endorse Clinton.
‘Highly offensive’: GOP lawmakers distance selves from Trump
WASHINGTON (AP) — Dismayed Republicans scrambled for cover Tuesday from Donald Trump’s inflammatory response to the Orlando massacre, while President Barack Obama and Democrat Hillary Clinton delivered fiery denunciations that underscored the potential peril for the GOP.
Republican hopes are fading for a new, “more presidential” Trump as the party’s divisions around him grow ever more acute.
Clinton, campaigning in Pittsburgh before her Tuesday night win in the Washington, D.C., Democratic primary, said: “We don’t need conspiracy theories and pathological self-congratulations. We need leadership and concrete plans because we are facing a brutal enemy.”
In Washington, Obama said of Muslim-Americans: “Are we going to start subjecting them to special surveillance? Are we going to discriminate against them because of their faith?” After meeting with counterterrorism officials, a stern-faced Obama said: “We heard these suggestions during the course of this campaign. Do Republican officials actually agree with this? Because that’s not the America we want.”
Several of Trump’s fellow Republicans clearly did not agree with him. They were nearly as unsparing as the Democrats in their criticism of his boundary-pushing response Monday to the killing of 49 people at a gay club in Orlando, Florida, by an American-born Muslim who pledged loyalty to the Islamic State group.
France stabbing suspect: ‘I just killed a police officer’
PARIS (AP) — In a video released by the Islamic State group and recorded in the suburban Paris home of his victims, a former jihadi recruiter confessed to killing a police officer and his female companion and listed other prominent people he planned to target.
The attack late Monday touched already raw nerves. It recalled elements of the Orlando, Florida, killings at a gay nightclub days earlier, and revived French concerns about the IS threat after the group targeted Paris in November, killing 130 people. A state of emergency is still in place, and 90,000 security forces are now deployed to protect the European Championship soccer tournament taking place across France.
On Tuesday, French President Francois Hollande urged heightened vigilance after what he said was “incontestably a terrorist act.”
The video reflects a pattern within IS of individuals pledging allegiance and then staging attacks that the extremist group calls its own — and the violence shows the group’s continued ability to attract followers despite being under attack in Syria, Iraq and Libya.
It was as surprising as it was bloody.
Deputies: Gator drags toddler into water near Disney resort
ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — Authorities are searching for a child who was dragged into the water by an alligator near Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa in Orlando.
Multiple news outlets report that Orange County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Rose Silva says the 2-year-old child was dragged into the Seven Seas Lagoon about 9:30 p.m. Tuesday.
Deputies are continuing to search the waters.
Silva says the child has not been found.
Origin of ‘Stairway to Heaven’ questioned at copyright trial
LOS ANGELES (AP) — The opening to Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven,” one of rock ‘n’ roll’s best-known ballads, was played for jurors Tuesday in a case brought by the estate of a dead musician that claims it was stolen by the men credited with creating it.
A lawyer for the estate trustee of the late Randy Wolfe, also known as Randy California, claimed the British rockers lifted the passage from the instrumental tune “Taurus,” recorded by his band Spirit, and infringed on the songwriter’s copyright.
“This was a song that Randy California had written for the love of his life, Robin. That was her sign, Taurus,” said attorney Francis Malofiy. “Little did anyone know it would fall into the hands of Jimmy Page and become the intro to ‘Stairway to Heaven.'”
An attorney for guitarist Page and singer Robert Plant told the eight-person jury during opening statements in Los Angeles federal court that the chord progression in Wolfe’s song is common and found in songs dating to the 1600s and that other similarities also exist.
“Do re mi appears in both songs,” said attorney Peter Anderson, who also claims Wolfe’s estate doesn’t own the copyright to “Taurus.”
AP Source: NHL settles on Las Vegas for expansion
The NHL is ready to roll the dice on Las Vegas.
A person with direct knowledge of the NHL’s decision says the league has settled on Las Vegas as the home for its next expansion franchise, provided organizers can come up with a $500 million fee.
The person spoke Tuesday on condition of anonymity because details of the plans have not been released by the league ahead of its Board of Governors meeting on June 22 in Las Vegas. Quebec City was also strongly considered for expansion.
A second person who had been briefed on the decision said Las Vegas was a “done deal” following the recommendation of the NHL’s executive committee.
The Vegas franchise is expected to begin play in the 2017-18 season, which is the earliest the league could expand, according to a third person who has been briefed on the decision.
Victim vignettes: All described as kind, loving, full of joy
A gunman wielding an assault-type rifle and a handgun opened fire inside Pulse, a crowded gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, early Sunday, leaving at least 49 people dead in the worst mass shooting in modern U.S. history. Here are stories of some of the victims.
Paul Terrell Henry, 41, was a caring father of two who loved to dance, play piano and sing, according to his friends and his boyfriend.
Francisco Hernandez, Henry’s boyfriend, told the Orlando Sentinel the Chicago native’s main priority was to make sure his kids were taken care of.
“Such a loving spirit. I’ll always have him in my heart,” said Hernandez, who added that he will most remember Henry for his smile.