Baker: No connection apparent between Orlando shooter, marathon bombers

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BOSTON >> Gov. Charlie Baker on Monday highlighted steps being taken by law enforcement to increase security around Massachusetts and downplayed any connection between the attacker responsible for this weekend's mass shooting at an Orlando nightclub and the brothers who carried out the 2013 bombings at the Boston Marathon.

Omar Mateen, the 29-year-old who opened fire at gay nightclub in Orlando on Sunday morning, killing 49 and injuring 53 others, referred to the Tsarnaev brothers as his "homeboys" during one of three 911 calls during the attack, according to the FBI, which also said "all evidence

collected to date shows no connection between Mateen and the Tsarnaev brothers."

Baker said the reference to the marathon bombings had been addressed at the top of a call Sunday night with national security officials.

"At this point in time, there's no reason to believe that there's much to that other than he referenced it as something that had happened. It doesn't appear that he had any direct connection to that at all," Baker said.

Joined by Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito and Public Safety Secretary Daniel Bennett, Baker spoke to the media late Monday morning, conveying his sympathy for the victims of an attack that he said hit "particularly close to home for me" because of his gay brother.

After speaking with his brother and other gay friends on Sunday, Baker said they felt that just as acceptance of members of the LGBT community appears to be improving in the country, something happens to the community spurred by hatred.

"There's no room for that here in the commonwealth or anywhere in society, and we should of course do all we can to resist that," Baker said.

Baker said his administration has reached out to organizers of Pride Month activities to offer security or the assistance for upcoming events.

Bennett said he has a conference call planned Monday afternoon with the Gay Officers Action League and major-city chiefs of police to discuss ways state law enforcement can work with them without "making it in any way an uncomfortable experience."

"I think this guy, based on early reports, hated with extreme prejudice people who are a part of the LGBT community," Baker said, rejecting Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump's use of the tragedy to repeat calls for a ban on Muslims entering the country.

Asked specifically about Trump's comments blaming President Barack Obama for weakness and suggesting that there's "something going on" with Obama because he won't use the term "radical Islamic terrorism," Baker rejected the politicization of the attack and any jump to conclusions about what motivated Mateen apart from homophobia.

In a statement on Monday, MassEquality Executive Director Deborah Shields said, "We are horrified that the deadliest mass shooting in modern American history took place in a gay nightclub during Pride month — a time when the LGBTQ community and its allies join together to celebrate our history and look ahead to a future when we hope everyone can live free from discrimination and violence. The fact that those who were killed and wounded were at the club on Latin night painfully highlights the racist violence faced by so many members of our community."


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