WASHINGTON (CBSNewYork/CBS News) — U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch said on “Face the Nation” Sunday that her office is investigating every aspect of the Orlando nightclub massacre, and focusing on why gunman Omar Mateen targeted the nightclub and the LGBT community.
A total of 49 people were killed, and 53 were injured, when Mateen opened fire at the Pulse gay nightclub in Orlando a week ago Sunday. Mateen was ultimately killed in a shootout with police.
Speaking to John Dickerson on “Face the Nation,” Lynch said the Attorney General’s office is “moving quickly” and “trying to uncover everything” about the massacre.
Among the major questions, she said, is “Why did he target the LGBT community, a community that is so often the victim of hate crimes – in an act of both hate and terror?”
The Attorney General’s office this week will release partial transcripts of three calls made by Mateen — to 911 and later, a hostage negotiator. He pledged allegiance to ISIS in one of the calls, but questions about his motive remain.
“We have had a lot of conflicting information over the course of the investigation, so that information will be coming out,” Lynch said. “We do want to be as transparent as possible.”
Lynch noted that while Mateen did not mention the LGBT community in his 911 calls, “obviously, we know that he apparently had some concerns or issues with the LGBT community.” She also noted that Mateen attacked during Latin night at the nightclub.
“We want to make sure that those communities know we are there to protect them as well,” Lynch said.
Lynch noted that there is no information indicating that Mateen was being directed by terrorists overseas. But there is information, she said, that Mateen, “like sadly too many individuals, was consuming radical jihadist information online.”
Lynch further said her office would work to prevent firearms purchases “once we get an individual to the point where they are definitely on our radar – for example, they do come on a watch list or no fly list.”
Robbie Abell, co-owner of Lotus Gunworks in Jensen Beach, Florida, told reporters last week that Mateen came into his store about three weeks ago and asked for level 3 body armor, which his store did not sell.
He also said Mateen made a phone call and spoke Arabic before asking for bulk ammunition.
The employees did not sell him any ammunition and Abell stated that “we contacted FBI direct” after Mateen left the store, but they were “not as attentive as we would have hoped.”
Lynch noted that because Mateen did not make a purchase at that gun store, his identifying information was not left there at the time – although the owner did recognize him after the massacre.
Lynch added that it is too early in the investigation to determine if any family members played a role in the shooting, although a source told CBS News that Mateen and his wife texted during the Orlando rampage. “It’s really too early to talk about other individuals in the investigation, except to say that we are talking to everyone who had a connection to this killer,” she said.
Lynch will be headed to Orlando on Tuesday, where she will meet with victims of the massacre and their families, first responders, federal prosecutors, and others impacted by the attack.