THE gunman who massacred 49 people on Sunday at the Pulse gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, tried to escape the scene with survivors fleeing through a hole punched in a wall by a police armoured vehicle, it emerged yesterday.
Omar Mateen was killed in an ensuing shootout with police.
Orlando police chief John Mina told reporters that Mateen had taken hostages in a bathroom after an initial charge by police had allowed many patrons to escape.
After about three hours of negotiations, police broke through the wall, allowing hostages to escape.
A New York-born Florida resident and US citizen, 29-year-old Mateen was the son of Afghan immigrants.
FBI director James Comey said Mateen made three 911 phone calls from the club during the attack and claimed allegiance to the leader of Islamic State and the perpetrators of the 2013 Boston Marathon attack.
Director Comey admitted the FBI had investigated Mateen in 2013 after he claimed a family connection to Al Qaeda in comments to fellow security guards.
Mateen admitted making the claim but said he had done so in anger at his co-workers, who he believed were discriminating against him.
The FBI closed the case after 10 months.
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