U.S. authorities said on Monday they had found no direct links between Islamic State militants and the gunman who killed 49 people at a gay nightclub in Orlando, describing him as a homegrown extremist who was inspired by radical Islamist groups.
The FBI and other agencies were still looking at evidenceinside the club and on the closed-off streets around the Pulse nightclub, where New York-born Omar Mateen perpetrated the worst mass shooting in modern U.S. history.
Mateen, 29, the son of Afghan immigrants, was shot and killed by police who stormed the club with armored cars early on Sunday morning after a three-hour siege.
"So far, we see no indication that this was a plot directed from outside the United States and we see no indication that he was part of any kind of network," FBI Director James Comey said in Washington. "We're highly confident this killer was radicalized at least in some part through the internet."
Islamic State reiterated on Monday a claim of responsibility, although it offered no signs to indicate coordination with the gunman.
The bloody rampage reverberated on the presidential campaign trail, where presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton, his likely opponent in the Nov. 8 election, clashed over how to confront violent Islamist extremists.
Trump proposed to suspend immigration to the United States from countries with a proven history of terrorism, while Clinton warned against demonizing Muslims and called for tougher gun safety measures.
The Florida rampage began about 2 a.m. on Sunday when the club was packed with some 350 revelers at the club's Latin music night. Many fled as the gunman raked the crowd with bullets from an AR-15-style semiautomatic rifle and a pistol.
An initial wave of officers charged into the club and trapped Mateen in a bathroom, Orlando Police Chief John Mina told reporters. That allowed many patrons to flee, although others were trapped in the restroom with Mateen, leading to a standoff.