Orlando gunman raged against ‘filthy ways of the west’
ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — Orlando gunman Omar Mateen apparently made a series of Facebook posts and searches before and during his attack on a gay nightclub, raging against the “filthy ways of the west” and blaming the U.S. for the deaths of “innocent women and children,” according to a Senate committee letter released Wednesday.
The killer whose rampage left 49 people dead also searched for “Pulse Orlando” and “Shooting” online on the morning of the carnage Sunday and said on Facebook: “America and Russia stop bombing the Islamic state,” according to the letter.
The Senate Homeland Security Committee sent the letter to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, asking the company to produce information on Mateen’s online activity and to provide a briefing to the panel.
The letter illuminating Mateen’s state of mind in the final hours of his life was released as the long, sad procession of memorials and funerals for the victims began in Orlando and as the FBI appealed for the public’s help in reconstructing the killer’s movements. The FBI is also trying to establish how much Mateen’s wife may have known about the attack at Pulse dance club.
“We need your help in developing the most complete picture of what he did and why he did it,” FBI agent Ron Hopper said at a news conference.
Chaos in all corners: club gunman sprayed bullets everywhere
ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — “Please, don’t let my hand go,” Eddie Justice begged Demetrice Naulings. The two best friends huddled together in the women’s bathroom with about 40 other terrified club-goers.
Panic welled in Naulings’ chest. “I was like, ‘I can’t be in this bathroom,'” he recalled, feeling it meant certain death. “Because they closed the door, but we could still hear the gun. And people were yelling, ‘Let me in, please!’ And I was like, ‘Let me out!'”
So clutching Justice’s left hand in his right, Naulings and his friend bolted from the bathroom at the Pulse nightclub. When Justice implored him to hold on tight, Naulings said: “The face that he gave me was just, ‘I’m afraid. And I know with you, you gonna get me out.'”
Inside the club, dozens of people wailed and screamed in pain. Shots, seemingly endless, continued to ring out. Some club-goers — stained with their own blood, or with the blood of others — hid under a bar, while others ran wildly in every direction.
Dozens tried to push toward a hallway leading outside. Naulings had hosted parties at Pulse and knew there was a gate just beyond that. Could they reach it?
Body of boy snatched by gator found in Disney lagoon
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. (AP) — The body of a 2-year-old Nebraska boy who was snatched off a Walt Disney World beach by an alligator and dragged underwater was recovered Wednesday, ending a ghastly search at one of the world’s most popular tourist destinations.
Divers found the body of Lane Graves about 16 hours after authorities first got the call that a reptile had taken the boy from the water’s edge at Seven Seas Lagoon despite his father’s frantic attempt to save the child.
Sheriff Jerry Demings said it appeared the gator pulled the child into deeper water and drowned him, leaving the body near the spot where he was last seen. An autopsy was planned.
“Of course the family was distraught, but also I believe somewhat relieved that his body was found intact,” Demings told a news conference.
The boy’s parents were identified as Matt and Melissa Graves of Elkhorn, Nebraska, a suburban area of Omaha. A family friend released a statement on behalf of the couple thanking well-wishers for their “thoughts and hope-filled prayers.”
Trump’s new Obama claims thrust him into uncharted territory
WASHINGTON (AP) — Donald Trump’s latest accusation against President Barack Obama — that he’s putting U.S. enemies ahead of America’s own people — is thrusting him into uncharted territory for the presidential candidate of any major political party.
Trump spent the first days following the Orlando nightclub massacre hinting Obama was sympathizing with or even supporting terrorists. Some of those times he said he was repeating what “many people” believe — one of the presumptive Republican nominee’s favorite ways to sprinkle conspiracy theories into the presidential campaign.
By Wednesday, Trump abandoned the innuendo and embraced a more pointed accusation against Obama.
“Media fell all over themselves criticizing what Donald Trump ‘may have insinuated about @POTUS.’ But he’s right,” Trump posted on Twitter. The message included a link to a story by Breitbart News, a Trump-friendly website, that claimed to have proof the Obama administration backed a terror group in Iraq.
Trump spokeswoman Hope Hicks said the candidate was retweeting a message from another Twitter user. Still, it was an effort by the GOP’s White House pick to explicitly link the sitting Democratic president with those seeking to harm Americans, just days after 49 people were killed and dozens more wounded in Florida.
Egypt says it has found plane wreckage
CAIRO (AP) — Egypt on Wednesday said that it spotted and obtained images from the wreckage of the EgyptAir plane that crashed into the Mediterranean last month, killing all 66 people on board, according to a statement by the country’s investigation committee.
The committee said that the vessel John Lethbridge, which was contracted by the Egyptian government to join the search for the plane debris and flight data recorders, “had identified several main locations of the wreckage.” It added that it obtained images of the wreckage located between the Greek island of Crete and the Egyptian coast.
The next step, the committee said, will be drawing a map showing the wreckage location.
The 75-meter (82.05-yard)-long survey vessel is equipped with sonar and other equipment capable of detecting wreckage at depths up to 6,000 feet (1,830 meters).
The EgyptAir Airbus A320 en route to Cairo from Paris had been cruising normally in clear skies on an overnight flight on May 19. The radar showed that the doomed aircraft turned 90 degrees left, then a full 360 degrees to the right, plummeting from 38,000 feet (11,582 meters) to 15,000 feet (4,572 meters) before disappearing at about 10,000 feet (3,048 meters).
Dem senator frustrated by inaction on guns wages filibuster
WASHINGTON (AP) — A Democratic senator waged a filibuster into the night Wednesday, an attempt to force a vote on gun control legislation three days after 49 people were killed at a Florida nightclub in the worst mass shooting in modern U.S. history.
Connecticut Sen. Chris Murphy said he would remain on the Senate floor “until we get some signal, some sign that we can come together,” and evoked the Newtown school shooting in his state in 2012. His plea came as presumptive Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump said he would meet with the National Rifle Association about the terror watch list and gun purchases.
“For those of us that represent Connecticut, the failure of this body to do anything, anything at all in the face of that continued slaughter isn’t just painful to us, it’s unconscionable,” Murphy said.
Twenty children and six educators died in the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School on Dec. 14, 2012. Murphy, 42 and the father of two young boys, said he cannot look into the eyes of those children’s relatives and tell them that Congress has done nothing since.
The election-year fight over gun control in the wake of the shooting in Orlando, Florida pits strong proponents of the Second Amendment right to bear arms against those arguing for greater restrictions on the ability to obtain weapons. Trump, who has the endorsement of the NRA, told a rally in Georgia, “I’m going to save your Second Amendment.”
Dray Day: Green vows to be better for Warriors in Game 6
CLEVELAND (AP) — For all the criticism of Golden State’s Draymond Green and his penchant for committing flagrant fouls during these playoffs, Wednesday may have brought the harshest words yet.
The critic: Green himself.
Saying he let the Warriors down and that he was a “terrible teammate,” Green spoke on how it pained him to be suspended for Game 5 of the NBA Finals — and how he will make amends Thursday night in Game 6, when the Warriors visit the Cleveland Cavaliers and get a second shot at winning what would be their second straight championship.
“I owe to my teammates to come back and give all that I have, all that I can do to better this situation,” Green said. “I have strong belief that if I play Game 5, we win. But I didn’t because I put myself in a situation where I wasn’t able to play.”
Golden State leads the series 3-2, but now knows it will play the rest of the series without starting center Andrew Bogut because of a left knee injury. Green — who missed Game 5 because of how many flagrants he has accrued during the playoffs — will be called upon to play some center in Game 6, as he has plenty of times in this postseason already.
Australian elections a bore next to US, and that’s a relief
SYDNEY (AP) — The election campaign underway in Australia is often summed up by the local media with the following words: “A marathon.” ”Endless.” ”Exhausting.” That endless, exhausting marathon lasts a whopping eight weeks — an eternity for Australians who cannot conceive of the years-long campaigning Americans are subjected to by their presidential candidates.
The length of the campaigns is hardly the only difference between the two countries’ electoral processes, which are unfolding simultaneously on opposite sides of the globe to vastly different effect.
While the U.S. campaign could be characterized by its loudness, the Australian campaign could be characterized by its listlessness. There have been no scandals. No major gaffes. No soundbite-friendly fireworks between the leaders of the two major parties. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and opposition leader Bill Shorten don’t even differ much when it comes to many of their policies.
Australian independent Sen. Nick Xenophon compared his country’s contest to a certain 1990s American sitcom known as a “show about nothing.”
“This is almost a ‘Seinfeld’ election — it’s an election about not much at all,” Xenophon said with a chuckle during a recent interview with the Australian Broadcasting Corp. “I really think people are disconnected and disenchanted.”
Shooter claimed police academy rejection was over religion
FORT PIERCE, Fla. (AP) — Omar Mateen graduated from community college with a criminal justice degree, worked as a security guard and wanted to be a police officer.
But a police academy rejected his application, prompting Mateen to complain that he was denied because of his Muslim faith.
More details about Mateen emerged Wednesday as investigators retraced his movements and tried to talk to anyone who came in contact with him over the last several years. Mateen, a 29-year-old bodybuilder and devout Muslim, opened fire at a gay nightclub in Orlando early Sunday, leaving 49 people dead and 53 wounded. Mateen was killed during the attack.
A number of possible motives and explanations have surfaced, with Mateen calling 911 to profess allegiance to the Islamic State group, his ex-wife saying he was mentally ill and his father suggesting he hated gays.
Meanwhile, a newly unearthed clip from a film documentary about the 2010 BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico shows Mateen — then working as a security guard at a cleanup site in Florida — talking cynically about people who make money off disasters.
Details emerge about nightclub shooter’s wife
RODEO, California (AP) — She was a sweet, pretty California girl with Palestinian roots who left an arranged marriage only to find love with a man who committed the worst mass shooting in modern U.S history.
Little by little, details have begun to emerge about 30-year-old Noor Zahi Salman, who grew up in the small suburb of Rodeo, California, tucked in the dry hills near the oil refineries 25 miles northeast of San Francisco.
Her romance with Omar Mateen — security guard, bodybuilder and Muslim — began online, according to a neighbor, and they were married on Sept. 29, 2011, near her hometown, according to public records. The couple has a 3-year-old son.
Early Sunday, the 29-year-old Mateen opened fire at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, leaving 49 people dead and 53 wounded.
Authorities believe Mateen’s wife knew about the plot ahead of time, said an official who was briefed on the progress of the case but insisted on anonymity to discuss a continuing investigation. The official said investigators are reluctant to charge her only on the basis of possible advance knowledge of her husband’s plans.