© 2021 Maine Public
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Maine Political Leaders React to Orlando Shootings

Maine’s two senators, who both serve on the Senate Intelligence Committee, say it appears the shooter in the Orlando night club murders was the most difficult type of terrorist to identify and stop.

Independent U.S. Sen. Angus King says it appears the gunman was a so-called lone wolf terrorist. That’s someone who is not directly part of a terrorist group or cell and very difficult to identify and stop.

“The lone wolf who is not affiliated with one of these organizations, who isn’t plotting abroad, who isn’t flying airplanes but is living here in America and goes out and gets a gun a kills people,” he says.

King says lawmakers will be reviewing the case to see whether there is anything that should have been done to prevent the tragedy and to identify similar lone wolf-type terrorists in the future.

Republican U.S. Sen. Susan Collins also serves on the Senate Intelligence Committee and agrees with King that what makes these kinds of murders so horrifying is how difficult they are to prevent.

“What is most frightening about it that it appears, although we don’t know for certain, to be a case of home-grown terrorism. Of self-radicalization,” she says.

Collins says the FBI had twice investigated Omar Mateen and uncovered information that should have set off alarm bells. He was licensed in a job where he had access to firearms, for example, and his fellow workers and acquaintances told the FBI about some troubling comments he had made.

“That he was increasingly radicalized and was talking about killing people seemed to me to be red flags that should not have been ignored,” she says.

Collins says she does not want to second guess the FBI, but she says when she meets with FBI Director James Comey for a classified briefing she plans to ask why those warnings were not heeded.

Gov. Paul LePage has directed that flags in Maine be lowered to half-staff until sunset Thursday, in respect for the victims of the Orlando nightclub shootings.  The governor says thoughts and prayers are with the families and loved ones of the victims who were killed or injured in what he calls "this senseless and horrific attack."

A number of observances were scheduled for today across the state to remember the Orlando victims.

MPBN reporter Ed Morin contributed to this story.