DOJ Giving $1 Million in Federal Funds to Orlando First Responders: AG Lynch
Police stand guard down the road from the Pulse nightclub on June 17, 2016 in Orlando, Florida. Omar Mir Seddique Mateen killed 49 people and wounded 53 others at the popular gay nightclub early Sunday.Spencer Platt / Getty Images
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In remarks Tuesday aimed at offering solace to a grieving city and shocked nation in the wake of the deadly attack in Orlando, U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch assured first responders and families of victims that officials are working on getting answers.
"The Department of Justice is also determined to do anything we can to help this community heal, recover and become whole again," Lynch said.
And the Justice Dept. will make $1 million in emergency funding available to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to help cover overtime costs for state and local responders, she added.
Lynch's trip comes as the DOJ continues investigating and tries to reconstruct the crime scene of the June 12 massacre at the Pulse nightclub, in which 49 people were killed and at least 53 wounded.
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Federal investigators, who have conducted hundreds of interviews, haven't ruled out charges against others in connection with the shooting and say they're still trying to determine why Omar Mateen, who died in a gun battle with police, picked as his target a popular gay nightclub.
More clues emerged Monday when the FBI released a partial transcript of phone calls Mateen had with a 911 operator and police crisis negotiators once the shooting got underway. He identified himself as an Islamic soldier, demanded to a crisis negotiator that the U.S. "stop bombing" Syria and Iraq, warned of future violence in the coming days and at one point pledged allegiance to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of the Islamic State group, the FBI said.
Despite his declarations, the FBI says it's found no evidence the attack was directed by a foreign terrorist organization. Mateen instead appears to have been radicalized on his own through jihadist propaganda on the internet, part of a population of Americans that law enforcement officials have repeatedly expressed concern about.
"There is no doubt that this was a shattering attack — on our nation, on our people and on our most fundamental ideals," Lynch said. "But the message of Orlando goes far beyond one night of unspeakable terror. The message of Orlando that I have seen today — and what the American people have seen in the wake of this horrific assault — is a message of determination to remove hatred and intolerance from our midst; to live our lives freely and without fear; and to stay true to the principles of liberty, justice and equality that define America at our best."
The agency also has expressed support for a failed amendment sponsored by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-California, that would have blocked people on a terrorist watch list banned from flying while under investigation from buying a gun. The measure would also have empowered the Lynch to block a gun purchase if there was "reasonable belief" the person could use the weapon for terrorism.
Halimah Abdullah is a digital editor and writer for NBC News and is responsible for reporting, writing, editing and web producing federal policy news for NBCNews.com. Prior to joining the site in April 2015, Abdullah worked at CNN.com, where she reported, edited and web produced stories on federal politics and policy. In that role, Abdullah was responsible for helping cover Congress, the White House, federal agencies, and national political races.
A veteran politics and policy reporter and editor, Abdullah has worked for Bloomberg Government, McClatchy Newspapers' Washington Bureau, the Memphis Commercial Appeal, Newsday, and the Dallas Morning News. Her work has also appeared in the New York Times and TODAY.com, among other publications. Her journalism and creative writing have won awards, been published in several anthologies, and earned her invitations to attend several writing colonies. Abdullah is also a writing professor who has taught at the University of Maryland and the University of the District of Columbia and John Jay College and Brooklyn College in New York.