U.S. authorities say the gunman who killed 49 people at a gay nightclub in Florida referred to the brothers behind the Boston Marathon bombings as his "homeboys" in a call he made to emergency dispatchers during the attack.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation said in a June 13 statement that Omar Mateen, identified by authorities as the gunman in the massacre, made reference to Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev in the call made during the June 12 assault.
But Harold Shaw, special agent in charge of the FBI's Boston division, said in the statement that “all evidence collected to date shows no connection between Mateen and the Tsarnaev brothers,” whose family roots traced back to Russia’s troubled North Caucasus region.
FBI Director James Comey told reporters on June 13 that a 2013 investigation into Mateen, a U.S.-born citizen of Afghan descent, was launched after he claimed family ties to the Tsarnaev brothers and to the militant Al-Qaeda and Hizballah groups.
That investigation was closed 10 months later after authorities concluded that Mateen made the assertions to "freak out" his work colleagues, Comey said.
Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker said Mateen, 29, had previously mentioned the Tsarnaev brothers “a couple of years ago” but did not provide further details.
"There were a series of interviews and discussions directly with [Mateen] by federal officials, and they concluded at that point in time that there was no direction between him and them at all," Baker said.
The governor said state officials received the information from federal authorities investigating the massacre at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida, the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history.
The Tsarnaev brothers detonated two pressure-cooker bombs near the finish line of the Boston Marathon in April 2013, killing three and wounding more than 260.
Tamerlan, the older of the two brothers, was killed in a gunfight with police days after the bombing, while Dzhokhar, 22, was found guilty of carrying out the attack and sentenced to death last year.
With reporting by AP and Reuters