We’ve heard the Orlando shooter, Omar Mateen, was a practicing Muslim. We know he was once married to a woman and had a child with her. We know he pledged his allegiance to ISIS even as he was murdering innocent civilians. We know his father has spoken out against homosexuality — as recently as yesterday.
But now an even more shocking detail emerges: Mateen himself may have been gay.
Regular customers of the Pulse nightclub have now said they’d seen him there before and one man said he recognized Mateen from a gay dating and hook-up app called “Jack’d.”
According to Fox, The Orlando Sentinel cited four Pulse regulars who said they had seen the 29-year-old Mateen there before.
“Sometimes 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,” said Ty Smith, who claimed to have seen the gunman at Pulse at least a dozen times.
“We didn’t really talk to him a lot, but I remember him saying things about his dad at times,” Smith added. “He told us he had a wife and child.”
Smith’s husband, Chris Callen, told the Canadian Press that Mateen had been to Pulse regularly for “at least three years.”
Jim Van Horn, 71, told the Associated Press he was a frequent patron at Pulse and said another “regular” there was Mateen.
“He was trying to pick up people. Men,” Van Horn said late Monday outside the Parliament House, another gay club.
At around 1 a.m. Sunday, Kevin West was dropping a friend off at Pulse when he saw Mateen crossing the street. West told the Los Angeles Times Mateen had messaged him on and off for the past year using the gay chat and dating app Jack’d.
“He walked directly past me. I said, ‘Hey,’ and he turned and said, ‘Hey,'” West said. “I could tell by the eyes.”
About an hour later, Mateen began his rampage. Was he carrying the weapons at that time? Wearing the suicide vest? How about the additional magazines he must have been carrying to have enough rounds of ammunition to shoot nearly a hundred people? If not, where had he stashed all of this? Surely, these details will emerge over time – including the possibility of an accomplice – which seems not unlikely.
Was his horrific attack an act not of Islamic extremism but of self-loathing for the sexual preference he dare not express openly as a Muslim?
The Wall Street Journal reported that Mateen had expressed anti-gay views that horrified his classmates at Indian River State College, where he received an associate’s degree in 2006. A person who worked at the school during that time said some students would try to “educate” Mateen on his views.
Or was this a despicable case of “blending in” in order to learn more about his eventual targets? After all, the 9-11 hijackers spent many years in the U.S. studying their targets and “blending in.”
We may never know the truth.
But is it ever possible to understand the mind of someone so deranged that they would plan and carry out such a horrific act of carnage against innocents?
[Note: This article was written by Michele Hickford]