More than 24 hours after 29-year-old Omar Mateen shot and killed 49 people at the Pulse gay nightclub in Orlando, Fla., injuring 53 additional people, questions are emerging about the type of person Mateen was. Given that he attacked a club intended for the LGBTQ community armed with a hand gun and an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle, it's perhaps not surprising to learn that, according to many who knew him, Mateen harbored hate for LGBTQ people.
Reports about Mateen have been emerging since news of the shooting broke on Sunday, with people from the shooter's ex-wife to former co-workers speaking up about their perceptions and experiences of Mateen. Here is what people who knew the shooter, who was shot lethally by a SWAT team at Pulse at Sunday, have said about him.
In a statement to the press published by Reuters, Mateen's ex-wife, Sitora Yusifiy, described her ex-husband as "mentally unstable," "mentally ill," and "obviously disturbed." She added that he had been abusive toward her during their relationship. Yusifiy said that her family "rescued" her from the relationship with Mateen, and added that when she had known Mateen, he did not openly support any terrorist groups.
Mateen's father, Seddique Mateen, told NBC News that in the past, his son had become very angry after seeing two men kiss, adding that observing gay men could have set him off prior to carrying out the shooting.
In a video statement Seddique Mateen made Monday, he said he had "no idea" what would have made his son commit the shooting, adding, "I had no idea that he felt resentful in his heart and had gone to the gay club and killed men and women there."
In a phone interview with The Guardian, Mateen said, "Omar was an American and not an Afghan-American. He was born in the U.S. and never went to Afghanistan. He attended school here, worked here, and his whole life was here."
In the 911 call Mateen made prior to beginning to fire into the crowd at Pulse, he claimed allegiance the the Islamic State, according to NBC News. Mateen sometimes attended religious services at the Islamic Center of Fort Pierce, according to Reuters, and the mosque has spoken out to definitively condemn the shooting.
In an interview with Reuters, Syed Shafeeq Rahman, the Center's imam, said that Mateen was quiet and not social at the mosque, "He hardly had any friends." Rahman added, "He would come with his little son at night to pray and after he would leave," Rahman told Reuters.
Reuters added that unnamed members of the mosque did not notice any signs that Mateen held radicalized beliefs.
In a statement posted to the Center's website and Facebook page, the Center said,
We condemn this monstrous attack and offer our heartfelt condolences to the families and loved ones of all those killed or injured. The Muslim community of Fort Pierce joins our fellow Americans in repudiating anyone or any group that would claim to justify or excuse such an appalling act of violence.
The Islamic Center of Fort Pierce did not immediately reply to Complex's request for comment.
According to NBC News, law enforcement said that there is not yet any evidence indicating that Mateen had been in contact with terrorist organizations overseas, despite having claimed allegiance to the Islamic State he made prior to the shooting rampage.
NBC further reported that the FBI had investigated Mateen in 2013 after reports that he had made "inflammatory" comments about extremist propaganda at work. At the time, concerned co-workers tipped off the FBI, prompting an investigation that determined Mateen was not a threat. Mateen was investigated a second time in 2014 because he was connected to a U.S. citizen who left the country for Afghanistan to become a suicide bomber, NBC reported.
On Monday afternoon, FBI Director James Comey said that the FBI is "highly confident that this killer was radicalized at least in part through the Internet," CBS News reported.
One of Mateen's former co-workers, Daniel Gilroy, told ABC News that Mateen had "a lot of rage in him." The two worked together as security staff through the security personnel company G4S Secure Solutions at the PGA Village South golf club in St. Lucie, Fla., and Gilroy said that he severed ties with Mateen after leaving his job, adding that he was "not surprised" that Mateen carried out the mass shooting. He told ABC News,
When I say that [Mateen] was unstable or unhinged, I mean this is a man who would lose his temper for no reason. He would kick walls, slap desks. I’ve seen him throw the chair across the room one time.
...I’m not surprised at what he did. I always knew he had something in him like that. And if I had to pick one person that would be capable of that, it would be him.
An unnamed former co-worker of Mateen's told NBC News that Mateen was "toxic" and racist.
G4S Secure Solutions and PGA Village South did not immediately reply to Complex's request for comment.
Chris Parenteau, a reporter for WJXT in Florida attended Martin County High School Mateen, and while he did not know the shooter personally, he has spoken with many who did. In an email sent to Complex, Parenteau said,
A lot of people that I have talked to say that he was a normal high schooler. He was quiet and often kept to himself. But on Sept 11, 2001, he was making some insensitive comments and actions after the terrorist attacks. Multiple friends have shared a story of him making airplane gestures and crashing noises on the bus that afternoon. There was a lot of anger from friends of his after seeing that and many people didn't look at him the same way after that.
Even so, there was never any inclination from those that knew him that he might one day be capable of something like this. Myself and many that I have talked to are completely shocked that we went to high school at Martin County High with someone who did something so unspeakable. The area is a small area and hearing that this killer was at one time a part of the community I grew up in has left myself and many still living there speechless.
The Martin County School District declined to provide comment about Mateen, but expressed their "sincere condolences to the families impacted by this horrific incident. The families of the victims remain in our thoughts and prayers."