On Sunday, Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando, became the scene of the largest massacre in American history. The gunman, Omar Mateen, a U.S born citizen, carried an assault rifle and a pistol into the club at around 2 a.m. and began shooting, killing 50 people and injuring 53. Mateen was shot and killed by police early morning on Sunday.
Mateen, 29, lived in Fort Pierce– 120 miles southeast of Orlando. The gunman traveled to the location in what is believed to be a rented vehicle. He called 911 around the time of the attack to pledge allegiance to ISIS; during the call, he also mentioned the Boston bombers.
Although the attacker pledged allegiance to ISIS, there has been no claim of responsibility from jihadi forums. ISIS sympathizers have praised the attack in Orlando.
The Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) had investigated Mateen twice before. The first time because of “inflammatory comments” he made to coworkers. The second time was in the next year when Mateen was linked to a U.S radical who became a suicide bomber in Syria.
As neither investigation turned up any evidence, he had a clean record when he applied for a Florida license to carry concealed weapons, allowing him to legally purchase two firearms just days before the shooting.
When Mateen entered Pulse and opened fire, the bartender of the club thought the gunfire was a malfunction in the stereo. Because it was “Latin flavor” night, over 300 people were at the club at the time of the shooting. According to people inside the nightclub, the loud music and darkness created confusion during the panic.
“He was unhinged and unstable,” said Daniel Gilroy, a coworker of Mateen to Floridatoday.
Gilroy worked with the gunman for several months in a security position, however, quit his job because Mateen constantly made homophobic and racist comments while on the job. According to Gilroy, Mateen often commented about killing people and their employers did nothing about it.
Mateen repeatedly abused his ex-wife during their marriage, which lasted two years, ending in 2011, according to the Washington Post. He would beat her for not finishing the laundry by the time he got home.
“He is not a stable person,” Mateen’s ex-wife said.
His parents said Mateen had strayed from religion and that he wasn’t religious anymore. However, Mateen’s father is a supporter of the Afghan Taliban, according to the Washington Post.
The Orlando community has asked the public to hold off on mass vigils so that forces can be where they need to be: investigating more on what has happened.