In the wake of any atrocity, there are certain narratives that get cast in stone with the public (most people, quite rationally, don’t read multiple versions of the same story for weeks examining what has changed), some of which end up being misleading early reports. Early reports indicated that the Orlando Pulse shooter was a habitual visitor to the club and – if not unambiguously gay – something of a sexually confused, self-hating gay or bisexual man. That’s not necessarily inconsistent with him being an ISIS-inspired radical Muslim (people are complicated, and radicals are sometimes drawn to causes they are hypocritical about or that reject parts of their own behavior or identity they’re ashamed of), but it’s been seized on by those arguing that this is a story of Christian-inspired “homophobia” rather than Islamic radicalism.
Well, maybe. An AP report this evening quotes law enforcement sources suggesting that perhaps the early reports were wrong:
FBI investigators so far have not turned up persuasive evidence that Orlando gunman Omar Mateen was gay or pursuing gay relationships, according to two government officials familiar with the investigation.
The FBI began looking into that possibility after media reports last week quoted men as saying that Omar Mateen had reached out to them on gay dating apps and had frequented the gay nightclub where the June 12 massacre took place. One man claimed to be Mateen’s gay lover in an interview with Univision that aired this week, while another recalled Mateen as a regular at the Pulse club who tried to pick up men.
But the officials say the FBI, which has conducted about 500 interviews and is reviewing evidence collected from Mateen’s phone, has not found concrete evidence to corroborate such accounts nearly two weeks into the investigation. They also cautioned that the investigation is ongoing and that nothing has formally been ruled out.
The AP report is itself anonymously-sourced, and it’s not unknown for anonymously-sourced wire reports from “law enforcement sources” to fall apart themselves on closer inspection. Only one named source appears in the piece, and he seems less than conclusive:
Jim Van Horn, 71, who said in the days after the attack that he recognized Mateen from previous visits to the Pulse, said Friday he wasn’t sure why investigators wouldn’t have discovered persuasive evidence of that, though he said he had no concrete evidence himself. He said he has not spoken with investigators and that they have not reached out to him.
Keep a close eye on this story the next 48-72 hours. It may turn out, as it has done so many times before, that closer inspection of the facts fits the left-wing narrative a lot worse than the original story.