The Latest: Senate committee wants FBI files on gunman


ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — The Latest on the massacre at a gay Orlando nightclub (all times local):

6:30 p.m.

A Senate committee is asking the FBI to turn over its files on Orlando gunman Omar Mateen.

In a letter Wednesday to Attorney General Loretta Lynch, the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs asked the FBI to provide records related to two previously closed investigations concerning Mateen.

The committee also requested details of the placement and removal of Mateen from a terrorist watch list, any prior visits to the Pulse nightclub or Walt Disney World before the attack and his travel to Saudi Arabia.

In addition, the committee said it wanted information about Mateen’s use of social media before and during the attack, and the FBI’s communication with state and local law enforcement about Mateen’s comments about terrorism prior to the attack.

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6:10 p.m.

A U.S. official says the FBI has determined that nightclub shooter Omar Mateen was in the area of Disney World at some point before the attack unfolded, though it’s unclear for what purpose.

The official briefed on the investigation who was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly and spoke Wednesday on condition of anonymity.

Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer said Mateen drove around the Orlando area Saturday evening, going from one place to another, before he opened fire at the gay nightspot about 2 a.m. Sunday. Forty-nine people were killed and more than 50 injured.

—Eric Tucker, Washington

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5:55 p.m.

Ricky Martin is calling for unity, love and tougher gun laws.

In a lengthy statement released Wednesday, the singer is urging his fans to call their elected representatives “10 times each day until they act.” Martin says to “set a timer if it helps, but make the calls.”

He released the statement, titled “I Will Never Cease to Fight for Love,” in English and Spanish.

Martin called the Orlando shooting an act of hate that has profoundly affected him as a human being and a gay person. He said the United States has an “undeniable problem with gun violence.”

He said that even more important than contacting elected officials is to love wholeheartedly.

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5:30 p.m.

Singer-songwriter Melissa Etheridge responded to the mass shooting at a Florida nightclub by doing one thing she felt she could do, which was write a song.

Etheridge told the Rolling Stone that she titled the song “Pulse” after the club where 49 people were killed and dozens more wounded in Orlando on Sunday. The song was written almost immediately after she heard the news and recorded on Monday with producer Jerry Wonda.

The song features a thumping, heartbeat-like rhythm and lyrics about how love will always win, but also seems to directly address the gunman when she sings, “Who you gonna gun down? If you can’t kill the truth.”

Etheridge said the song will be available for purchase soon and proceeds will go to a LGBT charity.

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A Missouri sheriff says he’s waiving fees for the rest of June for residents seeking concealed carry permits after last weekend’s nightclub massacre in Florida.

Bates County Sheriff Chad Anderson announced the move Monday on the department’s official Facebook page.

The county has charged residents $100 for their first five-year permit and $50 to renew one. The department also will hold a free concealed carry class for new applicants July 9.

Authorities say Omar Mateen opened fire at a gay nightclub in Orlando early Sunday. The attack left 49 people dead and 53 wounded.

Anderson says in the Facebook posting that while he continues praying for peace in the U.S. and worldwide, he “will not put blinders on and act like this cannot happen here to people we know and love.”

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2 p.m.

The Homeland Security is set to issue a new terror alert system bulletin that will highlight the threat environment facing the United States.

The bulletin will be effective Thursday, the same day a bulletin issued in December expires.

DHS Secretary Jeh (jay) Johnson announced in December the addition of bulletins to the National Terrorism Advisory System. At the time, he said the bulletin was being issued to keep the public informed in a “new phase off the global threat environment.”

That global threat environment, he says today, hasn’t changed and U.S. authorities remain worried about homegrown violent extremists “who could strike with little or no notice.”

A gunman attacked a nightclub early Sunday, leaving 49 people dead and wounding 53 others.

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1:50 p.m.

A federal prosecutor says he won’t speculate on whether any charges may be brought in the investigation into the nightclub shooting in Orlando.

U.S. Attorney Lee Bentley said during a news conference Wednesday that it would be premature to speculate about any charges. He also asked people to not make threats against members of the Muslim community, saying in most cases that the threats are illegal. He did not talk about any specific threats.

The FBI urged people who have had any contact or know anything about shooter Omar Mateen to please contact them. FBI agent Ron Hopper said no piece of information is too small.

An official who was briefed on the case but insisted on anonymity to discuss a continuing investigation said authorities believe that 30-year-old U.S.-born Noor Salman knew ahead of time about Sunday’s attack, but they are reluctant to charge her on that basis alone.

— Associated Press writer Mike Schneider

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1:45 p.m.

The White House says President Barack Obama’s visit to Orlando on Thursday is about offering comfort and support to a community that’s grieving.

Spokesman Josh Earnest says many details about the president’s trip are still being worked out, but Obama will meet with and offer condolences to the families of those who were killed and will seek to comfort those who survived.

Earnest tells reporters at Wednesday’s press briefing that the president will also meet with first responders, doctors and nurses who acted heroically to try and save innocent lives. He says their efforts were successful in saving dozens of people, and the president wants to thank them personally.

Earnest says the trip will be an emotional one for Obama and that he will speak publicly about the experience.

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12:30 p.m.

A newly unearthed documentary clip shows Orlando nightclub shooter Omar Mateen talking cynically about people who make money off disasters.

The clip from 2012’s “The Big Fix” shows Mateen chatting with an undercover film crew while working as a security guard at a BP oil spill cleanup site on the Florida panhandle.

Mateen tells a woman who pulls up to his guard booth that everyone is “hoping for more oil to come out and more people to complain so they’ll have the jobs.”

Security firm G4S confirmed Wednesday that the guard in the clip is Mateen.

G4S spokeswoman Sarah Booth says Mateen was stationed in Pensacola, Florida, for several months in 2010 to assist with the oil spill cleanup.

“The Big Fix” chronicles the effects of the Deepwater Horizon spill that sent more than 200 million gallons of oil spewing into the Gulf of Mexico in April 2010.

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11:55 a.m.

Democratic state lawmakers want to pass emergency legislation requiring a ban on gun purchases by people on watch lists.

The Florida lawmakers called on Gov. Rick Scott on Wednesday to hold a special session on the legislation in the wake of the massacre of 49 people at an Orlando nightclub in what is the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history.

The proposal would require the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to conduct an extensive background check on individuals who have been on watch lists before they can legally purchase or own firearms.

Gunman Omar Mateen was questioned three times in 2013 and 2014 by the FBI but the cases never went anywhere.

A special session could only be held if either the Republican governor wants one or Senate President Andy Gardiner and House Speaker Steve Crisafulli agree to hold one.

Neither is likely to happen since Scott has said the shooting in Orlando isn’t about gun rights, and the speaker and president, both Republicans, said Tuesday they have no plans to call a special session to address gun laws.

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11:50 a.m.

An Orlando hospital says six people wounded in the nightclub shooting are still in critical condition.

The Orlando Regional Medical Center said Wednesday that four people are in guarded condition, an improvement from a day early when five people were in that condition.

The hospital says they are still treating 25 people there. Doctors have warned that the death toll from the shooting could rise.

Forty-nine people were killed and more than 50 people wounded when a gunman opened fire on the Pulse nightclub early Sunday.

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11:45 a.m.

Senate Democrats are proposing a funding boost for the FBI’s counterterrorism efforts and local active shooter training in the wake of the mass shooting in Orlando.

The proposed amendment to a Justice Department spending bill would increase the number of special agents related to counterterrorism and boost surveillance.

Democrats are also expected to introduce an amendment to allow the government to deny firearms and explosives to people known or suspected of being involved in terrorist activities. California Sen. Dianne Feinstein offered the amendment in December, a day after an extremist couple killed 14 people in her state. It was rejected on a near party-line vote.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has focused on the need to beef up defense, intelligence and law enforcement efforts against extremist groups.

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11:30 a.m.

Orlando nightclub shooter Omar Mateen passed a psychological evaluation in 2007 as part of his application to be a private security guard.

Florida records show Mateen was determined to be mentally and emotionally stable in September 2007 so he could work for The Wackenhut Corp., later renamed G4S Secure Solutions. The records state he took a written psychological test or had an evaluation by a psychologist or psychiatrist.

Mateen also stated in his 2007 firearm application that he neither had been diagnosed with a mental illness nor had a history of alcohol or substance abuse.

The documents were obtained by The Associated Press under open records laws. They are part of paperwork he filed to the state agency that issues firearms and security officer licenses.

Records show Mateen also scored well on his firearms tests.

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The families of the 49 victims who died and survivors of the nightclub shooting can now turn to a victims’ assistance center to get death certificates and retrieve cars they have been unable to get to because the area is a crime scene.

The assistance center opened Wednesday at the Camping World Stadium, previously known as the Citrus Bowl.

Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer and Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs say the center will provide grief counseling, legal information, funeral-arrangement assistance, translators and help with the transportation needs of the survivors and their families.

Dyer says they have use of the entire stadium and can accommodate as many people as needed.

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11:15 a.m.

Orlando police and the FBI have scheduled a news conference to update the media on the investigation into nightclub shooter Omar Mateen.

Investigators are looking into the motives of Mateen, who attacked the Pulse dance club early Sunday, leaving 49 people dead. Mateen died in a gun battle with police.

Mateen called 911 and pledged his allegiance to the Islamic State during the attack.

The news conference is set for 1:30 p.m.

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An Orlando television station says nightclub shooter Omar Mateen called during his standoff with police and declared his support for the Islamic State.

Matt Gentili, a producer at CFN 13 in Orlando, says a man called him and said “I’m the shooter. It’s me. I am the shooter.”

Gentili says the man started to say he did it for the Islamic State and started speaking in Arabic.

The call came in about 2:45 a.m., roughly 45 minutes into the massacre, according to NY 1 News, the station’s sister operation in New York.

Gentili was interviewed by FBI agents and NY 1 says the Orlando station’s managing editor traced the call back to a number associated with Mateen.

The Orlando Police Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Officials have previously said Mateen called 911 twice during the shooting.

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10:55 a.m.

Orlando officials are giving the families of the 49 victims from the Pulse nightclub massacre the option of being buried together in a city-run cemetery.

Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer said Wednesday that there is enough space at the city’s Greenwood Cemetery to accommodate 49 plots together if their families desire.

Dyer says the spot in the 82-acre cemetery is near a road which would make it a good spot for some kind of memorial for the victims of the Pulse nightclub since people could leave flowers and cards.

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10 a.m.

An official says the Orlando shooter’s threats that he had strapped explosives onto hostages and clubgoers’ belief that he had explosive vests caused a delay of “significant time” in sending paramedics into the nightclub.

Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer said Wednesday that shooter Omar Mateen falsely told negotiators that he was strapping explosive onto four hostages, and club-goers trapped inside thought he had explosive vests, based on texts they sent and remarks to 911 dispatchers.

No explosives were found in the club. A battery pack that SWAT members initially thought could be an explosive ended up being a fire alarm or piece of an exit sign.

Dyer said he didn’t know exactly how long a delay that caused.

Officials have said 11 victims either died at hospitals or on their way to hospitals.

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9:20 a.m.

An official says the gunman in the massacre at a gay nightclub was driving around the Orlando area the night before the mass shooting.

Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer said Wednesday that Omar Mateen drove around on Saturday night before he opened fire at the Pulse club about 2 a.m. Sunday.

Dyer says, “What I know concretely is that he was driving around that evening and visited several locations.”

When asked exactly where Mateen visited, and whether the locations included theme parks as reported in some media stories, Dyer said, “I think it’s been pretty accurately depicted on the news.” He did not give further details.

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7 a.m.

Defense Secretary Ash Carter has issued a statement about the death of a U.S. Army Reserve soldier in the massacre at a gay Florida nightclub, and says officials there support the people of Orlando and the LGBT community.

Ash says Capt. Antonio Davon Brown served for nearly a decade to protect others — “the noblest thing a young person can do.”

The statement says the Defense Department grieves with Brown’s families and all the loved ones affected by the shooting. It also says: “We stand with the people of Orlando and the nation’s LGBT community during this difficult time.”

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6:50 a.m.

German federal investigators say they’re looking into a Duesseldorf bank account held by the father of the gunman who attacked an Orlando nightclub, and are in contact with their American counterparts.

Germany’s Rheinischen Post reports Seddique Mateen posted the bank information in a 2013 video soliciting donations. The newspaper says the account is now closed and only received two payments, of 100 euros ($112) and 70 euros.

Mateen, the father of Omar Mateen, has multiple videos online in which he chats about Afghan political issues in Farsi. He calls himself the “Afghan revolutionary president” but isn’t a known name in Afghanistan.

Federal Criminal Police Office spokeswoman Barbara Huebner said Wednesday that her office was investigating to see whether there was any relevance to the Orlando case, but refused to give further details.

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6:45 a.m.

The London-based security company that employed the Florida nightclub shooter says it received one complaint about him during his nine years of employment.

The 2013 complaint prompted G4S to transfer Omar Mateen. It came from St. Lucie County Courthouse, where he was a security guard. The FBI then investigated Mateen.

G4S spokesman Nigel Fairbrass said Wednesday that it was the only complaint about Mateen since he was hired in 2007. GS4 wouldn’t give details on the complaint.

Former G4S employee Daniel Gilroy has told the New York Times and other news outlets that he had alerted G4S about Mateen’s behavior. G4S says it has no records of any complaints by Gilroy. Gilroy has called Mateen loud and profane and accused him of threatening violence.

Fairbrass says of Gilrory: “We reached out to him and have since confirmed that he did, in fact, not file any formal complaint.”

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3 a.m.

Investigators trying to find out what motivated nightclub killer Omar Mateen are casting a wide net.

The FBI is checking reports that Mateen frequented a gay dance club in Orlando before going on a murderous rampage there. Investigators also are looking at whether his wife knew anything beforehand about the deadliest mass shooting in modern US history. The attack left Mateen and 49 victims dead.

On Tuesday, a U.S. official said the FBI was looking into news reports quoting patrons of Pulse as saying Mateen frequented the nightspot and reached out to men on gay dating apps. The official wasn’t authorized to discuss the investigation and spoke on condition of anonymity.

President Barack Obama said investigators had no information to suggest a foreign terrorist group directed the attack.