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A G4S guard in London.
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EN GUARD

The Orlando shooter was employed by a British security firm, and its shares are tanking

By Cassie Werber

G4S shares fell sharply on Monday, after it emerged that the British security firm had employed Omar S. Mateen as a guard since 2007. Mateen opened fire at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, in the small hours of Sunday morning, killing 50 people, and wounding dozens more. He also died.

The shooting is now the deadliest such incident in American history.

G4S ignored complaints about his “unhinged” and “homophobic” behavior, a former coworker and ex-cop alleged. “I quit because everything he said was toxic,” David Gilroy told USA Today on Sunday, “and the company wouldn’t do anything. This guy was unhinged and unstable. He talked of killing people.”

Mateen had been known to the FBI since 2013, and the company that employed him became aware of those investigations that year, G4S said in a statement. Their own checks returned no warning signs. Its shares are now at their lowest point since 2009.

“Mateen underwent company screening and background checks when he was recruited in 2007 and the check revealed nothing of concern. His screening was repeated in 2013 with no findings,” John Kenning, G4S’s regional CEO for North America, said in a statement.

“In 2013, we learned that Mateen had been questioned by the FBI but that the inquiries were subsequently closed. We were not made aware of any alleged connections between Mateen and terrorist activities, and were unaware of any further FBI investigations,” he said.

G4S employs 610,000 people in 100 countries, and sources many of its recruits from police and military backgrounds. It has faced criticism (paywall) in the past for breaches of security such as prison escapes. Since 2012, it’s been trying to rebuild its reputation after it failed to provide enough security guards to the London Olympics, and the army had to step into the breach.

The company was one of the US government’s biggest federal contractors after the September 11 terrorist attacks, and employs 57,000 people in North America.