Omar Mateen killed 49 people at a gay nightclub in Orlando this weekend, in the deadliest mass shooting in modern US history. Now, eyewitness are saying it wasn’t Mateen’s first visit to the club Pulse.
Ty Smith told the Orlando Sentinel that Mateen regularly attended the club, where “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.” Smith remembered Mateen talking about his family; he was divorced with a three-year-old son.
Another regular, Kevin West, told the LA Times that Mateen had messaged him on and off for a year using the gay dating app Jack’d (link SFW). The two never met up, until West saw Mateen when dropping a friend off at the club, an hour before the shooting. There are other reports that suggest Mateen created profiles on a number of gay dating apps.
A man who attended the police academy with Mateen in 2006 told the Palm Beach Post that Mateen once had asked him out romantically. The anonymous classmate said: “We went to a few gay bars with him, and I was not out at the time, so I declined his offer.”
Authorities are still working to determine what exactly motivated the attack. Mateen also declared his allegiance to ISIL in a call to 911.
Mateen’s father, Mir Seddique, has suggested it might have something to do with Mateen seeing two men kissing a few months earlier, which had angered him. But Seddique told the Post that his son was not gay:
“If he was gay, why would he do something like this?”
Correction: on an earlier version of this story the headline stated that Mateen “may have been gay.” It was changed since having a same-sex attraction is not the same as being gay.