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[Breaking news update at 7:43 a.m. ET]
The gunbattle that killed Orlando nightclub shooting suspect Omar Mateen began after the gunman emerged through a hole that a police armored vehicle had made in the building to rescue hostages, Orlando police Chief John Mina told reporters Monday. “The suspect came out of that hole himself … and engaged in a gunbattle with officers, where he was ultimately killed,” Mina said.
[Breaking news update at 7:37 a.m. ET]
Authorities have identified 48 victims of the shooting at an Orlando nightclub, Mayor Buddy Dyer told reporters Monday. They have notified the next of kin of 24 of them, Dyer said.
[Previous story, published at 7:34 a.m. ET]
A day after a gunman shot dead 50 people at a gay nightclub in Orlando, police investigated the attacker’s ties to ISIS and Americans grieved over the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history.
Omar Mateen, 29, of Fort Pierce, Florida, carried an assault rifle and a pistol into the packed Pulse club about 2 a.m. Sunday and started shooting.
In addition to the people killed, he wounded at least 53 others, police said.
During the attack, Mateen called 911 to pledge allegiance to the ISIS terror group and mentioned the Boston Marathon bombers, according to a U.S. official.
After a standoff of about three hours, while people trapped inside the club desperately called and messaged friends and relatives, police crashed into the building with an armored vehicle and stun grenades. They killed Mateen after the rampage — the deadliest terror attack in the United States since 9/11.
“It appears he was organized and well-prepared,” Orlando police Chief John Mina said. Authorities said they haven’t found any accomplices.
‘An act of hate’
ISIS sympathizers have reacted by praising the attack on pro-Islamic State forums, while the official online ISIS radio channel, Al-Bayan, described the attack as a “raid on a Crusader gathering” carried out by “one of the Caliphate’s soldiers in America.”
“We know enough to say this was an act of terror and act of hate,” President Barack Obama said in an address Sunday to the nation from the White House.
While the violence could have hit any American community, he said, “This is an especially heartbreaking day for our friends who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.”
Omar Mir Seddique Mateen was born in 1986 in New York. Most recently he lived in Fort Pierce, about 120 miles southeast of Orlando. Fearing explosives, officials evacuated about 200 people from the apartment complex where he lived while they looked through his residence for evidence. The FBI search of the apartment has now been completed, a law enforcement source told CNN.
Mateen’s parents, who are from Afghanistan, said he’d expressed outrage after seeing two men kiss in Miami, but they didn’t consider him particularly religious and didn’t know of any connection he had to ISIS.
He was married in 2009 to a woman originally from Uzbekistan, according to the marriage license, but he filed documents to end the marriage in 2011.
Sitora Yusufiy, interviewed by CNN in Boulder, Colorado, said she and Mateen were together about four months, though it took a long time to complete the divorce because they lived in different parts of the country after separating.
Mateen was a normal husband at the beginning of their marriage but started abusing her after a few months, she said. She said Mateen was bipolar, although he was not formally diagnosed. She also said he had a history with steroids. He was religious but she said she doesn’t think his religion played a role in the attack.
According to a mortgage document, Mateen remarried a woman named Noor Salman and they lived in a Fort Pierce condo. CNN’s Sara Sidner spoke to a source in Rodeo, California, who knows the family well. The source said Salman’s mother wept and tearfully asked: “Why is God doing this to me?”
Mateen had worked since 2007 as a security officer at G4S Secure Solutions, one of the world’s largest private security companies.
FBI Assistant Special Agent Ronald Hopper said the agency was aware of Mateen. The FBI interviewed him in 2013 and 2014 after he expressed sympathy for a suicide bomber, Hopper said.
“Those interviews turned out to be inconclusive, so there was nothing to keep the investigation going,” Hopper said.
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