WHO WAS OMAR MATEEN? - Orlando shooting

Homophobe or closet gay?

Gunman Omar Mateen, who massacred 49 people at the Pulse club in Orlando, was himself a regular at the gay nightspot, according to some club-goers.
Gunman Omar Mateen, who massacred 49 people at the Pulse club in Orlando, was himself a regular at the gay nightspot, according to some club-goers. PHOTO: REUTERS

The authorities delve into killer's background in bid to make sense of the worst US mass shooting

ORLANDO • The gunman who massacred 49 people at the Pulse club in Orlando was himself a regular at the gay nightspot, according to some club-goers.

"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," Mr Ty Smith told the Orlando Sentinel, referring to slain shooter Omar Mateen.

Mr Smith told the paper on Monday that he saw Omar inside 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," Mr Smith said. "He told us he had a wife and child."

Another Pulse regular, Mr Kevin West, told the Los Angeles Times Omar messaged him on and off for a year using a gay chat app. Other club-goers told local media and MSNBC that Omar had been using multiple gay apps with mutual acquaintances to "hook up".

His wife, Ms Noor Zahi Salman, was not cooperating with the authorities, according to a law enforcement official who spoke on condition of anonymity, the Sentinel said.

In an interview with NBC News on Sunday, Mr Seddique Mateen, also known as Mir Siddique, described an incident in downtown Miami in which his son saw two men kissing in front of his wife and child, and he became very angry.

"We are saying we are apologising for the whole incident," NBC News quoted Mr Seddique as saying. "We weren't aware of any action he was taking. We are in shock like the whole country."

Mr Seddique lives in Florida, according to public records, but it was not immediately known when he came to the United States.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 15, 2016, with the headline 'Homophobe or closet gay?'. Print Edition | Subscribe