Tag Archives: mass shooting

Orlando to buy Pulse nightclub to create a memorial

The city of Orlando, Florida, has announced plans to purchase the Pulse nightclub and eventually convert the site of the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history into a memorial.

Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer told the Orlando Sentinel this week that the city has reached a deal to buy the LGBT nightclub for $2.25 million.

Dyer says the site should probably remain as-is for the next 12 to 18 months, as it has become a gathering place for mourners.

He says the city will reach out to the community for advice on how plans for the memorial should proceed.

The purchase price is $600,000 more than its appraised value.

The June 12 attack left 49 people dead and 53 wounded.

Gunman Omar Mateen was killed by SWAT team members.

Audio captures police strategizing about Pulse shooter

Police negotiators talking to the Orlando nightclub gunman at first weren’t sure if the person they had on the phone was actually in the Pulse nightclub, according to audio recordings.

The recordings between police negotiators and shooter Omar Mateen don’t stray from transcripts of conversations released previously by the city of Orlando.

But they do capture police officials strategizing among themselves about how to talk to Mateen, who hung up several times during the three-hour standoff at the gay nightclub.

Circuit Judge Margaret Schreiber ruled this week that Mateen’s calls should be made public.

But she won’t rule on releasing other 911 calls from the mass shooting until she has listened to them.

More than two dozen news groups, including The Associated Press, have been fighting the city in court over the release of more than 600 calls dealing with the worst mass shooting in modern U.S. history.

The city has released about two-thirds of the calls but is still withholding the 232 calls that lawyers for the city say depict suffering or killing and are exempt from Florida’s public records laws.

The media groups have argued that the city’s application of the exemption is too broad and that the 911 calls will help the public evaluate the police response to the shooting at the gay nightclub.

In one of the calls released, a police official can be heard early on saying he’s not convinced the person on the call is in the club.

At another point, the lead police negotiator, named “Andy,” said, “He sounds like he is in a very sterile environment, like he’s at a home or an apartment.”

But another police official said Mateen could be in an office or bathroom.

The recordings also show how the negotiators were feeling out whether they had accurately identified the suspect.

“We called him Omar,” said Andy, who was then interrupted by another police official who says, “He didn’t deny it.”

Between calls, they mulled over what Mateen had told them, such as his refusal to answer if he had an accomplice.

They discussed Mateen’s claims that he was wearing a vest and that he had explosives in a car outside the nightclub. He wasn’t wearing a bomb vest and there were no explosives in a car, but police officials didn’t know that at the time.

“He said the bombs are in a car in the parking lot. He’s not confirming anything,” a police official can be heard saying in the background as Andy implores Mateen to respond.

Andy tells another police official that Mateen had claimed to be wearing a vest but he didn’t know what type.

“A dress vest. A bulletproof vest, or a bomb vest. That’s all I got. We questioned him on it and he shut down,” the police negotiator said.

The judge allowed family members of the 49 patrons who died to testify about whether they wanted the remaining 911 calls made public. Some opposed the release while others were OK with the transcript being made public.

“It would be extremely difficult for family and friends to listen to these calls,” said Jessica Silva, whose brother, Juan Rivera Velazquez, died with his partner in Pulse. “Just listening to one of the calls … We can recognize voices. Just listening to them screaming … How are we going to feel?”

The FBI has offered no indication of when the probe into the shooting that also left 53 people seriously wounded will be done.

An FBI spokeswoman didn’t immediately return an email seeking comment.

Aileen Carillo, whose brother, Simon Adrian Carillo Fernandez, died in the nightclub, said she would like to listen to the calls to help her understand what happened, but didn’t want them to be made public.

“I would like to know what happened. We haven’t really heard what happened. We are unaware of the facts,” Carillo said on the witness stand through a Spanish interpreter.

Orlando wants to keep Pulse assistance center open

An assistance center for victims of the Pulse nightclub massacre should remain open for several more years, according to Orlando officials.

The Orlando Sentinel reports the city council voted Aug. 29 to pay the Heart of Florida United Way over $123,000 to staff the Orlando United Assistance Center through early November. City officials said they’ll discuss a longer contract that would keep it open for several more years.

Survivors of the shooting can seek grief counseling, rent assistance and other services at the center, which was established in an unused Orange County government building shortly after the June 12 massacre at a packed gay nightclub.

Leydiana Puyarena, who was shot in the leg inside Pulse, said the center connected her with a psychologist and provided about $3,000 for rent and utilities.

“I have my counseling sessions and that’s helping me a lot, but once the (OneOrlando Fund) money is dispersed, I won’t need to ask them for any other help,” she said. “That money is really what is going to help me and the others and allow us to move forward with our lives.”

The OneOrlando Fund is preparing pay-outs later this month for the families of 49 people killed and dozens more people hurt or affected by the massacre.

Puyarena said she was glad the city plans to keep the center open.

“I know a lot of people will still be needing help as time goes on,” she said.

The city turned over management of the assistance center to the Heart of Florida United Way in July, with about $93,000 for about two months’ of services.

“We think that there is still going to be a lot of need for therapy, mental health counseling, support groups, things like that,” said Stephanie Husted, the center’s director.

The newspaper quoted a senior adviser to the city on social services, Lori Pampilo Harris, as saying the center will be needed for “no less than three years.”

From July 11 through Aug. 22, the center scheduled 235 appointments with victim advocates and helped 129 clients with basic needs such as rent, mortgage or car payments, Husted said.

“We want to make sure to really individualize each case and make sure that we’re trying to get them to some type of normalcy, rather than a one-time type of assistance,” she said.




Anti-gay pastor who denounced Orlando victims charged with molestation

A anti-gay Christian pastor who said victims of the Orlando Pulse nightclub shooting got “what they deserve” faces charges of molesting a young male member of his congregation.

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation arrested Ken Adkins, 56, on one count of aggravated child molestation and one count of child molestation on Aug. 26. He’s currently being held at the Glynn County Jail.

A special agent told The Florida Times Union that the investigation is focused on molestations that allegedly occurred at Adkins’ church, in a vehicle and at a victim’s home.

On June 16, Adkins tweeted, “Been through so much with these Jacksonville Homosexuals that I don’t see none of them as victims. I see them as getting what they deserve!!” The tweet has since been removed and Adkins’ Twitter account is now private.

Adkins has a history of anti-gay activism. He opposed expansion of Jacksonville’s Human Rights Ordinance to include LGBT people. Adkins posted crude cartoons on Twitter of people who backed the expansion, including one depicting pro-expansion officials in a bathroom stall.

The anti-gay pastor is also an outspoken supporter of the North Caroline “bathroom bill,” which forces transgender people to use public facilities designated for their birth sex rather than their sexual identity.

Adkins also has a history of public controversies. Last month a Georgia Court rejected Adkin’s latest bankruptcy filing and accused him of perjury in relation to the case.

Still, Adkins holds influence in Jacksonville and south Georgia politics. Florida Politics reported that the city’s chief financial officer tapped the pastor as part of his campaign team when he ran for mayor in 2006. A judicial candidate paid Adkins for consulting his campaign; Adkins and others in his faith community hurled charges of racism at the candidate’s opponent.

The June 12 attack on Pulse nightclub, which served a primarily LGBT clientele, was the largest mass shooting in the nation’s history. Gunman Omar Mateen killed 49 people and injured another 53 before he was shot and killed by local police.

Clinton, Kaine take aim at NRA, with public behind them

“Tim Kaine has a background of steel — just ask the NRA,” said Hillary Clinton in introducing her vice presidential pick in Florida today. It was her first limelight moment since the Republican National Convention, and we’re encouraged that she used part of it to focus on gun control.

The nation desperately needs to hear an honest debate about gun control at the presidential level. Democrats and Republicans are worlds apart on the issue. We got a striking picture of where Republicans stand at their convention in Cleveland, where delegates toted firearms into the Quicken Loans Arena like little kids showing off their toys. The party’s platform not only ignores the nation’s mounting toll of horrific mass shootings, but also reads as if the National Rifle Association wrote it — which might very well be the case.

In addition to Clinton’s remarks today, there was more good news for gun-control advocates. A new Associated Press-GfK poll found support for restrictions on gun ownership now stands at a two-thirds majority — the highest level since the poll started asking the question in 2013, about 10 months after the elementary school massacre in Newtown, Connecticut.

According to the new poll, majorities favor nationwide bans on semi-automatic assault weapons and high-capacity magazines holding 10 or more bullets. By a 55 percent to 43 percent margin, respondents to the poll said laws limiting gun ownership do not infringe on the Second Amendment. Strong majorities from both parties said they support background checks for people buying firearms at gun shows and through private sales.

In addition, they back the commonsense banning of gun sales to people on the federal terrorist watch list.

But the poll also found widespread pessimism that elected officials will act. It’s incumbent on Clinton and other Democrats running for office in November to prove the public wrong. They must stand up forcefully and stand down the NRA’s propaganda machine.

The NRA maintains that more guns make people safer, but the opposite is true. The U.S. has more guns per capita than any other nation in the “developed” world and more firearm deaths per capita to show for all those weapons. Americans are 10 times likelier to be killed by firearms than citizens of any other developed nation, according to a study that appeared in the American Journal of Medicine. Yet Americans own virtually one gun for every man, woman and child in the country.

Recent gun-violence cases further undermine the NRA’s distortion. When a sniper opened fire on armed Dallas police officers earlier this month, their guns did nothing to protect them. But imagine how many more casualties there would have been if everyone in the crowd had been armed to the hilt and shooting willy-nilly to stop an assailant who was not even visible.

A gunman managed to kill three Baton Rouge police officers and wound three others, despite the fact that his victims were both armed and trained to use their weapons. An armed security guard was working at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando when 49 customers were killed. The guard exchanged fire with the attacker but to no avail. And officials said that more firearms in the nightclub would have resulted in more innocent deaths during the hysterical melee the first shootings triggered.

In all of those cases, the attackers had the advantages of surprise and powerful weapons. We can’t stop the former, but we can curb the latter with sensible gun restrictions. We need laws designed to benefit society rather than the profits of weapons and munitions manufacturers.

Americans don’t balk at the myriad other restrictions they live with, many of which are ridiculous and unfair. Citizens don’t become unhinged at having to undergo minor security checks to buy decongestants. They don’t send death threats to opticians in protest of bogus laws forcing contact lens wearers to undergo annual eye exams, whether they need them or not. Most citizens accept laws against littering, urinating on sidewalks and coming to a complete halt at stop signs even when no traffic is present.

Yet the NRA has trained millions of Americans to go full freak at potentially life-saving restrictions, such as preventing terrorists from buying assault weapons and prohibiting the sale of body-armor-piercing bullets. Obviously, sanity is being set aside when it comes to this issue and tens of thousands of Americans are dying every year as a result.

Beginning now, you must force candidates for offices at all levels to explain their positions on gun control. Let them know that in order to earn your vote, they must support sensible gun control that does not violate the 2nd Amendment but can reduce the shootings.

We’re finally in a place where Americans are fed up with the nation’s gun obsession. We have a presidential candidate who plans to challenge the NRA from the top of the ticket, but it’s up to voters to put pressure on local and state officials.

Together, let’s imagine a nation where we don’t awake every morning to headlines of another slaughter, where we don’t live every day with the fear that we — or someone we love — will be next. Then take that vision to your candidates and ultimately to the ballot box.


The federal ban on gun-violence research must end

In the immediate wake of our nation’s mass shootings, many people ask the question, “Why do these things happen?”

But an answer to this question remains hard to come by, because so little is known about gun violence. The nation’s largest medical association wants to change that, and we heartily agree.

The knowledge deficit is entirely the fault of past and current Congresses beholden to the National Rifle Association and the gun industry. It can be traced back to 1996, when Congress first passed a measure banning the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from conducting research on gun violence (the author of the amendment now regrets it). The ban had a chilling effect across the board on researchers, who feared retribution from the powerful NRA and its cultlike acolytes.

Following the mass shooting two years ago at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, President Barack Obama issued an executive order calling on the CDC to get back to studying “the causes of gun violence.”

The order got no traction. Researchers, both within and outside the government, were loath to become enmeshed in such a hot-button issue, especially with the 1996 law still on the books.

After a church shooting last year in Charleston, South Carolina, left nine people dead, there was a renewed attempt on Capitol Hill to study the relationship between gun ownership and gun violence.

Instead, Congress quietly renewed the ban on federal research of the issue.

The gun culture within the Republican Party is so deeply rooted that delegates recently adopted an amendment to its national platform declaring pornography a “public health crisis,” while arguing that guns are not a health issue and therefore the CDC cannot receive federal funding to study them. The platform was being written as President Barack Obama and former President George W. Bush were in Dallas addressing a memorial service for the police officers gunned down there by a sniper.

Physicians and virtually all other health care professionals disagree strongly with the assertion that gun violence is not a public health issue.

In Chicago earlier this summer, the American Medical Association adopted the position that gun violence in the United States is not only “a public health crisis,” but one that requires a comprehensive public health response and solution. The AMA vowed to put its considerable lobbying muscle to work in Congress to end the research ban.

“With approximately 30,000 men, women and children dying each year at the barrel of a gun in elementary schools, movie theaters, workplaces, houses of worship and on live television, the United States faces a public health crisis of gun violence,” said AMA president Dr. Steven J. Stack in a press statement.

He continued: “Even as America faces a crisis unrivaled in any other developed country, the Congress prohibits the CDC from conducting the very research that would help us … determine how to reduce the high rate of firearm-related deaths and injuries. An epidemiological analysis of gun violence is vital.”

We’d like to see the AMA, the American Psychological Association, law-enforcement agencies and other groups committed to public health and safety work together to break the gun industry’s lock on Congress.

This will take fortitude. Leaders of such an effort will face intimidation from the same people who once warned that Obama was going to take away their guns. Pro-gun zealots will attempt to destroy their reputations. Opponents of the research ban can also expect intimidation — and even death threats — for daring to “attack” the Second Amendment.

Let’s be clear: Scientific studies of gun violence do not constitute an attack on the Second Amendment any more than studying the limits of free speech violates the First Amendment.

But continuing to ban the study of gun violence violates both reason and humanity.

Orlando shooting victim played dead to survive

Orlando shooting victim Felipe Marrero wakes up in his hospital bed at night still thinking he smells gunpowder, nearly a week after the shooting rampage at the Pulse nightclub.

It’s just one of the ways the 30-year-old Orlando shooting victim has suffered after being shot four times in his back and left arm during the attack last Sunday morning that left 49 victims dead and more than 50 wounded. The gunman, 29-year-old Omar Mateen, also was killed in a firefight with police.

“It’s the same smell that was in the club that night,” Marrero said in an interview Friday from his hospital bed at Orlando Regional Medical Center.

The shock among the city’s residents was turning to grief as families buried loved ones in cemeteries across the city. With more funerals planned in coming days, the city, adorned with “Orlando Strong” banners, has been coming together to support each other and the families of other shooting victims.

“It’s amazing me how the community is getting so close,” said Monica Roggiero, outside the funeral of Anthony Luis Laureano Disla.

While some of the dead are buried, the wounded shooting victims continue trying to heal physically and mentally.

Marrero said he was just about to leave the club about 2 a.m. Sunday when he heard the shooting start. He was near the front door, close to the shooter, so he couldn’t leave through the club’s only exit. He fell to the floor. His friend, Luis Vielma, standing next to him was shot and killed.

Marrero lifted the edge of a couch near where he was lying and put his head underneath it.

“I covered myself, and laid on the ground for at least 30 minutes not trying to make any sudden movements,” he said. “I was just trying to play dead.”

Another 30 to 40 minutes passed. People were yelling, screaming.

The head of a man lying next to him had been blown apart. Bodies were everywhere, including that of his good friend, Luis.

“And the smell of the place was horrible — like gunpowder — and you just smelled death in the air,” he said.

He said the shots stopped for a while and he noticed the police were outside.

Flashing police lights started seeping into the club, he said, and officers were telling everyone to stay on the ground. Marrero said Mateen would lie among the bodies for a time so police couldn’t see him.

The shots stopped, as though Mateen were reloading, Marrero said.

Next, Mateen shot Marrero, hitting his lower back and left arm.

“I just lay there and all the blood coming out of my hand, and my arm was destroyed,” he said. “The amount of pain was unbearable.”

As shots continued to fly, Marrero said he made eye contact with an officer through the front door. He pleaded for help.

“He asked me to crawl to him, and the shooter had gone to another part of the club,” he said. He believes Mateen had gone to an area where police had punched holes in the walls — where Mateen was eventually fatally shot.

Marrero told the officer he couldn’t move. That he’d been shot in the back.

“He said, ‘You need to find the strength to do this.’”

Marrero says he used his right arm to grab dead bodies around him, got leverage and pushed himself toward the officer.

The officer grabbed his hand and dragged him quickly to an empty lot nearby, where paramedics eventually got to him.

His vision was blurry, and he’d lost a lot of blood.

“I just thought, ‘This is it,’” he said.

The next day, lying in his hospital bed at Orlando Regional Medical Center, Marrero says he saw Mateen’s picture on television and immediately recognized him.

“I said, ‘This guy was right next to me buying a drink,’” Marrero said.

His account of Mateen’s whereabouts in the hours before the shooting could not immediately be verified. Marrero said he gave that account to investigators. The FBI declined to comment and has not provided a timeline accounting for Mateen’s movements that night.

Marrero said he’s starting to heal but knows he has a long road. He’s had multiple surgeries and started physical therapy to try to regain the use of his arm. He started a gofundme account to raise money for medical bills.

The ordeal has also affected his sleep.

“The other night I woke up, and for some reason I started smelling the gunpowder,” the shooting victim said.

Largest LGBT-rights group urges steps to curb gun violence

The Human Rights Campaign, the largest U.S. LGBT-rights organization, on Friday called for several measures to curb gun violence in the aftermath of the attack that killed 49 patrons and staff at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida.

HRC endorsed steps to limit access to assault-style rifles, expand background checks, and limit access to firearms for suspected terrorists and people with a history of domestic abuse.

But despite the worldwide outrage over the June 12 attack in Orlando by a gunman armed with an assault rifle, there is no indication as yet that tougher federal gun-control measures are forthcoming to address the nation’s epidemic of gun violence.

In the Senate, a filibuster by Democrat Chris Murphy of Connecticut did little to break GOP obstruction in Congress over gun restrictions. Republicans are standing firm against any new legislation unless the National Rifle Association, which represents the financial interests of weapons and ammunition makers, first approves it.

President Barack Obama, who visited the victims’ families in Orlando, called on lawmakers to act.

“Those who defend the easy accessibility of assault weapons should meet these families and explain why that makes sense,” Obama said.

Historic resolution

HRC’s board of directors approve the resolution on the gun measures Thursday evening at a special meeting. The organization said it was the first time in its 36-year history that it had called such a meeting to address a policy matter that extended far beyond the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.

The HRC’s president, Chad Griffin, blamed the massacre on “a toxic combination of two things: a deranged, unstable individual who had been conditioned to hate (LGBT) people, and easy access to military-style guns.”

The safety of LGBT people “depends on our ability to end both the hatred toward our community and the epidemic of gun violence that has spiraled out of control,” Griffin said.

The HRC noted that according to the latest FBI statistics, more than 20 percent of hate crimes reported nationally in 2014 targeted people based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.

It also repeated its call for Congress to pass an LGBT-inclusive federal nondiscrimination law, and for legislatures to do likewise at the state level. At present, only 18 states have comprehensive statewide laws banning discrimination on the basis of both sexual orientation and gender identity.

Equality California, a major LGBT-rights group in California, also called for new gun-safety measures on Friday, urging action at both the federal and state level. It endorsed a package of bills in the California legislature, including measures that would require federal licensing of ammunition vendors, ban possession of large-capacity magazines, fund a center for research into firearm-related violence, and require anyone whose firearm is lost or stolen to notify law enforcement within five days of the loss.

See also: 20-plus years of the NRA’s anti-gay hate

Omar Mateen’s violent tendencies date back to 3rd grade

As early as third grade, the Florida nightclub shooter talked frequently about sex and violence. Before finishing high school, Omar Mateen was suspended for a total of 48 days, including for fighting and hurting classmates, school records showed.

In the years since, other people reported having disturbing run-ins with Mateen, including a bartender who said he stalked her nearly a decade ago and sent so many uncomfortable Facebook messages that she blocked him on the social network.

Mateen, whose attack on the Pulse nightclub left 49 people dead and 53 wounded, enrolled in Florida public schools after his parents moved in 1991 from New York City to Port Saint Lucie, on the Atlantic coast.

Teachers “couldn’t seem to help him,” said Dan Alley, retired dean of Martin County High School. “We tried to counsel him and show him the error of his ways, but it never had the effect that we were hoping for.”

Some of the same behavior followed Mateen into adulthood. His first wife has complained that he beat her, and the security company where he worked once reassigned him after he made inflammatory comments about minorities.

The 29-year-old was killed in a shootout with police as they moved into the gay club, where he was holding hostages in a restroom.

At least some of his suspensions were for fighting that involved injuries. Others were for unspecified rule violations, according to the records.

For elementary and early middle school, Mateen attended class in neighboring St. Lucie County, where teachers said he was disruptive and struggled academically.

A third-grade teacher wrote that he was “very active … constantly moving, verbally abusive, rude, aggressive.” The teacher described “much talk about violence & sex,” with Mateen’s “hands all over the place — on other children, in his mouth.”

In seventh grade, school administrators moved Mateen to another class to “avoid conflicts with other students.” That same report said Mateen was doing poorly in several subjects because of “many instances of behavioral problems.”

In a 1999 letter to Mateen’s father, one of his middle school teachers wrote that the boy’s “attitude and inability to show self-control in the classroom create distractions.”

“Unfortunately, Omar has great difficulty focusing on his classwork since he often seeks the attention of his classmates through some sort of noise, disruption or distraction,” the letter said.

He withdrew from Martin County High School in 2003 and eventually graduated from Stuart Adult Community High School, records show.

In 10th grade, he received a five-day suspension on Sept. 13, 2001, two days after the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon.

The records offer no details except to call it a “rule violation.” But in recent media reports, classmates have said it was because he celebrated the attacks.

Mateen’s father, Seddique Mateen, “would not back up the school, and he would always take his son’s side,” Alley said.

Mateen’s father has suggested his son had developed anti-gay feelings after seeing two men kiss. But others have said he was a regular at the Orlando club and that he tried to pick up men there.

Dina McHugh recalled Mateen taunting her about being a lesbian when they were in middle school, before she was even aware of her own sexual orientation.

Now openly gay, McHugh said Mateen’s teasing more than 16 years ago stung deeply enough that she paid him back by kicking him in the crotch.

In an interview Friday near the Port St. Lucie supermarket where she works, McHugh said a teacher who saw the fracas took both students to the dean’s office. McHugh said they were both scolded and told to leave each other alone.

“He was the jerk of the class,” McHugh said. “He just got on everybody’s nerves. He found a way to get underneath everybody’s skin.”

After high school, Mateen attended Indian River Community College, graduating in 2006 with a degree in criminal justice technology.

It was around that time that he met a bartender from Fort Pierce.

“He was one of those guys who wouldn’t leave me alone,” Heather LaSalla told the Associated Press on Friday in an interview in the doorway of her home. She worked at a bar in Port St. Lucie at the time, and Mateen started coming there, mostly by himself.

The tone of Mateen’s Facebook messages made LaSalla uncomfortable, she said, but she never filed a criminal complaint. She ran into him again at a park in November when she was with her young son and Mateen was with his, she said.

“He still had that weird vibe to him,” LaSalla said, but she did not feel threatened as Mateen told her that he had a wife and talked about his son’s soccer league.

A year after graduating from community college, Mateen passed a psychological evaluation as part of his application to be a private security guard.

Florida records show he was deemed mentally and emotionally stable in September 2007, before he went to work for the Wackenhut Corp., later renamed G4S Secure Solutions. The papers indicate he took a written psychological test or had an evaluation by a psychologist or psychiatrist.

In a 2007 application for a gun license, he said he had never been diagnosed with a mental illness nor had any history of alcohol or substance abuse.

As part of the application, he had a medical exam. The paperwork was signed by Dr. Syed Shafeeq Rahman, who is also the imam at the Fort Pierce Islamic Center and has close ties to Mateens’ family. Mateen’s father was a board member at the mosque with about 120 members.

Rahman declined to discuss his relationship with Mateen and his father.

G4S has said that Mateen was subjected to “detailed company screening” when he was recruited in 2007 and was screened again in 2013 with no adverse findings.

But on the job, Mateen ran into trouble. He was removed from an assignment at the St. Lucie County courthouse in 2013 after he made provocative remarks about women, Jews and the shooting at Fort Hood, Sheriff Ken Mascara said.

The FBI investigated Mateen over those comments and again in 2014 because of his ties to a Syrian suicide bomber who went to the same mosque. Both cases were closed without the agency taking action.

The FBI has been investigating how much Mateen’s second wife, Noor Salman, knew about the plot.

On Friday, a person familiar with the investigation said Mateen’s wife text messaged him on the night of the shooting, asking her husband where he was and telling him she loved him.

The person was not authorized to publicly discuss the probe and spoke on condition of anonymity.

Associated Press writers Curt Anderson and Nicole Ashley in Miami, Holbrook Mohr in Fort Pierce, Eric Tucker in Washington, D.C., Michael Sisak in Philadelphia and AP researcher Rhonda Shafner in New York contributed to this report.


Orlando shooter used gay apps, frequented Pulse nightclub

Orlando nightclub shooter Omar Mateen used gay apps and regularly visited Pulse before he shot more than 100 people inside, killing 49, according to multiple news sources.

That raises the the possibilities that Mateen either was acting out of self-loathing or casing the nightclub for an attack and trying to find victims online.

Another possible motive: the American-born Muslim was radicalized online by militant Islamic groups. He phoned police to pledge allegiance to ISIS at some point during his murderous rampage at the club.

The FBI is investigating those angles, while experts say there are probably multiple motives and no single answer to explain the largest mass shooting in the nation’s history. They say the true answer is likely to be all of the above.

Cruising or scouting?

Investigators have recovered Mateen’s phone and will use location data to verify whether he previously visited the club, said an official who was not authorized to discuss the case and spoke on condition of anonymity.

The Palm Beach Post reported that at least five people have come forward saying they saw Mateen at gay clubs.

One former classmate of Omar Mateen’s 2006 police academy class told The Palm Beach Post that he believed Mateen was gay, saying Mateen once tried to pick him up at a bar.

According to the report, the classmate said that he, Mateen and other classmates sometimes went to gay nightclubs after classes at Indian River Community College police academy.

“We went to a few gay bars with him, and I was not out at the time, so I declined his offer,” said the former classmate, who asked that his name not be used.

“He said, ‘Well if you were gay, you would be my type.’”

Jim Van Horn, 71, told The Associated Press that he had seen Mateen repeatedly at Pulse and talked to him once.

“He was a homosexual and he was trying to pick up men,” Van Horn said. “He would walk up to them and then he would maybe put his arm around ’em or something and maybe try to get them to dance a little bit or something.”

At least four regular customers of Pulse, the LGBT nightclub where the massacre took place, told the Orlando Sentinel they believed they’d seen Mateen there before.

Other gay men reported that Mateen had contacted them on gay apps. Owners of the app Jack’d said they’ve been unable to confirm so far that Mateen had a profile on the service. Grindr officials said they “will continue to cooperate with the authorities and do not comment on ongoing investigations.”

Adam4Adam said the company is looking at  conversations and profiles on gay apps in the Orlando area for any activity by Mateen but hasn’t found anything yet.

Repression and mental illness

Mateen’s father, Seddique Mateen, denied his son was gay and said that if he had been in the nightclub before, he may have been “scouting the place.” The elder Mateen, who lives Port St. Lucie, Florida, said that apart from the time his son got angry a few months ago over seeing two men kissing, he never saw any anti-gay behavior from him.

Psychological studies have shown that some men with repressed same-sex desires express anti-gay views, especially if they grew up in families that opposed homosexuality.

On Monday, drag performers Chris Callen and Ty Smith said Mateen got drunk at Pulse and complained about his father’s strict ways. They said Mateen had been escorted from the club several times.

Tampa Bay Times reported that Mateen visited his father one last time before embarking on what appears to be a well-planned execution.

Seddique Mateen, 59, told TBT that he grieved for his son’s victims and said he wishes that he had noticed some sign that would have led him to stop  his son before it was too late.

But CBS news said the gunman’s father has well-known anti-American views and is an ideological supporter of the Afghan Taliban. A message posted by the father on Facebook early Monday morning also makes it clear he could have passed anti-homosexual views onto his son. He wrote, “God will punish those involved in homosexuality,” saying it’s, “not an issue that humans should deal with.”

“People who are struggling to come to terms with their sexual identity do at times react to that by doing the exact opposite, which could be to become more masculine or more vocal about their ideals of a traditional family,” Michael Newcomb, a Northwestern University psychologist, told AP.

The attack early Sunday ended with Mateen being shot to death by a SWAT team. Of the 53 people wounded, six were listed in critical condition Tuesday and five others were in guarded condition.

Mateen’s ex-wife, Sitora Yusufiy, said earlier in the week that he was mentally ill, controlling and abusive. Amid the latest reports about his clubgoing, she told CNN: “Well, when we had gotten married, he confessed to me about his past that was recent at that time and that he very much enjoyed going to clubs and the nightlife and there was a lot of pictures of him.”

“I feel like it’s a side of him or a part of him that he lived but probably didn’t want everybody to know about,” she said.

Investigators working to determine whether anyone had advance knowledge of the attack have spoken extensively with Mateen’s wife, Noor Salman, and are working to establish whether she and Mateen were recently at or inside the club, the official said. The official said investigators have not ruled out charging others, including the wife.