ORLANDO, Fla., June 22 (UPI) — Omar Mateen, the gunman who killed 49 people in the Orlando Pulse nightclub shooting, bought plane tickets to California for his family two days before massacre.
Mateen purchased the tickets for a flight to Northern California after his wife’s mother had a recent operation from which she was not recovering, authorities said. The plane tickets were round-trip — scheduled for a two-week visit starting July 14.
Investigators are attempting to determine why Mateen bought tickets to travel if he was planning an attack. Authorities are working to piece together Mateen’s life and the final days before the attack to determine a motive for one of the most deadly mass shootings in U.S. history.
A police officer who was among the first responders to the shooting said a group of five to six officers were told to not proceed or engage the suspect and to wait until the SWAT team arrived. The officer described that about half a dozen armed officers dressed in basic police uniforms waited for “15 or 20 minutes — could’ve been longer” until the SWAT team fitted with tactical gear arrived and relieved them of command.
“We just basically stayed there, waited for movement, and we just held our position until SWAT got there,” Belle Isle police Officer Brandon Cornwell “Once SWAT got there they told us to retreat, that they’d take over because we were not really in tactical gear — we were just in our police uniforms.”