WASHINGTON (CBSNewYork/AP) — President Barack Obama said the shooting at a nightclub in Orlando that left 49 victims dead is an example of “homegrown extremism” and said there is no clear evidence the gunman was part of a larger plot.
Obama spoke in the Oval Office after getting briefed on the investigation by FBI Director James Comey, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson and other officials.
The president said it appears shooter Omar Mateen was inspired by extremist information disseminated over the internet.
“At this stage we see no clear evidence that he was directed externally,” he said. “It does appear that, at the last minute, he announced allegiance to ISIL, but there is no evidence so far that he was in fact directed by ISIL.”
He said the case is being treated as a terrorist investigation and said the attack appears to be similar to last year’s shooting spree in San Bernardino, California.
“As far as we can tell right now, this is certainly an example of the kind of homegrown extremism that all of us have been so concerned about for a very long time,” he said.
The president said investigators are still looking into the motivations of the shooter, including the fact that the shooting took place at a gay venue.
Obama also renewed his call for stricter gun control, saying the country needs to “think about the risks we are willing to take by being so lax in how we make very powerful firearms available to people in this country.”
“We have to go after these terrorist organizations and hit them hard. We have to counter extremism,” he said. “But we also have to make sure that it is not easy for somebody who decides they want to harm people in this country to be able to obtain weapons to get at them.”
FBI Director James Comey said later Monday that the gunman had “strong indications of radicalization” and was likely inspired by foreign terrorist organizations.
He told reporters that Mateen spoke with a 911 operator three times during the shooting early Sunday morning. He said Mateen pledged loyalty to the head of the Islamic State group on his last call.
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