In the immediate aftermath of last month’s deadly terror attack in Orlando, many speculated that the shooter, Omar Mateen, targeted Pulse because it was known as a gay nightclub. Over a month after the attack, however, federal investigators have yet to find any evidence that Mateen chose Pulse because it was a gay club. Investigators also say they have no evidence to support claims made in some media outlets that Mateen lived a secret gay lifestyle. In fact, the evidence the FBI has collected shows he was actually cheating on his wife with other women.
These new details were reported in The Washington Post on Friday based on interviews with federal law enforcement officials.
“While there can be no denying the significant impact on the gay community, the investigation hasn’t revealed that he targeted pulse because it was a gay club,” a U.S. law enforcement official told The Post.
According to the report, federal investigators have combed through Mateen’s computer and other electronic footprints in an effort to determine what motivated the attack. Thus far, the review has revealed nothing to support assertions that the attack was motivated by homophobia or that Mateen was gay. Investigators have also found no evidence that Mateen attempted to cover his tracks by deleting files and apps.
Additionally, federal investigators found no evidence that Mateen used gay slurs during the attack. This information was reportedly gathered by investigators during interviews with surviving witnesses that were trapped inside the club during the attack.
The Post confronted several individuals that came forward to media outlets after the attack with claims that they recognized Mateen from dating apps or gay clubs. Despite the federal investigators findings, some of the individuals reportedly maintained their claims. However, they could not provide any independent evidence such as saved messages from past conversations with Mateen.
It was not just random civilians speculating about Mateen’s motives after the attack. The Post article notes that the Attorney General, Loretta Lynch, even speculated about Mateen’s motives in the days after the attack.
“People often act out of more than one motivation,” the Attorney General reportedly said. “This was clearly an act of terror and an act of hate.”
Lynch’s speculative comments were made around the same time the DOJ initially released a redacted transcript of Mateen’s conversation with emergency dispatch operators. That decision led to widespread backlash and forced Lynch to release the unedited version of the transcript later that day.