An anonymous federal law enforcement official has alleged that the shooter who killed 49 people at an Orlando, Florida, gay club June 12 scouted Walt Disney World as a potential target.
Omar Mateen carried out the deadliest mass shooting in American history just one week after purchasing the assault rifle he used, People reported.
The unnamed official said Mateen attended Disney World with his wife in April.
Mateen also reportedly considered Downtown Disney a potential target. Downtown Disney does not require guests to pass through metal detectors.
The information came from the questioning of Mateen’s wife, Noor Zahi Salman, who also told authorities he had scouted Pulse nightclub, where the attack ultimately took place. Salman has not been charged with any crime.
This was backed up by four customers of the club, who told the Orlando Sentinel they believed they had seen Mateen in Pulse before.
“Sometimes he would go over in the corner and sit and drink by himself, and other times he would get so drunk he was loud and belligerent,” Ty Smith, who said he saw Mateen about a dozen times, told the Sentinel.
Mateen opened fire at the venue shortly after 2 a.m. June 12. Around 30 minutes later, he called 911 and pledged his allegiance to Islamic State.
Mateen took several people hostage and was only finally killed in a gun battle three hours later when a swat team intervened.
Asked for comment, Disney said it had already boosted security “across our properties.” This included “magnetometers, additional canine units, and law enforcement officers on site, as well as less visible systems that employ state-of-the-art security technologies,” Disney said in a statement reported by the New York Post.
“The feeling is that he didn’t pick Disney because it would have been too hard to kill a lot of people at once,” a source told the Post. It is not clear if this is the same source who spoke to People.
The FBI has confirmed it previously investigated Mateen twice, once in 2013 and again in 2014. However, on both occasions, not enough evidence existed to proceed with the inquiry.
The first investigation began after Mateen made concerning comments at work. A year later, the FBI interviewed him about his ties to Moner Mohammad Abu Salha, who traveled to Syria from the U.S. and killed himself in a suicide bomb attack, becoming the first known American suicide bomber.