The former wife and acquaintances of the gunman who massacred 49 people at a gay club in Florida have suggested he may have been gay and was not very religious.
The Independent reports that Omar Mateen visited gay clubs and used same-sex dating apps. Sitora Yusufiy, his ex-wife, reportedly told her fiancé the shooter had “gay tendencies”.
Yusufiy has said that he was violent and mentally unstable and had beaten her repeatedly.
The pair married in Fort Pierce in 2009 after meeting online, but her parents intervened and removed her from their home just months later after learning of his abuse.
“He was not a stable person,” she told the Washington Post. “He beat me. He would just come home and start beating me up because the laundry wasn’t finished or something like that.”
She told the newspaper that Mateen had not been very religious when she was with him and he had regularly exercised at the gym. She said he had owned a small-calibre handgun and worked as a guard at a nearby facility for juvenile delinquents.
The man, who did not want to be named, told the Palm Beach Post: “We went to a few gay bars with him, and I was not out at the time, so I declined his offer.” He believed Mateen was gay but was not open about his preference, describing him as “socially awkward”.
Another man said Mateen had messaged him for a year on the gay chat and dating app Jack’d but that they never met up.
Kevin West told the Los Angeles Times he was dropping off a friend at Pulse at 1am on Sunday morning when he recognised him crossing the road. “He walked directly past me. I said, ‘Hey,’ and he turned and said, ‘Hey,’” and nodded his head, West said. “I could tell by the eyes.”
Several regulars at the club told the Orlando Sentinel Mateen had visited before and told drinkers he had a child, as well as talking about his father.
“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,” Ty Smith said.
Another frequent patron at Pulse, Jim Van Horn, described Mateen as a “regular”.
“He was trying to pick up people. Men,” he told the Associated Press, saying the man had once told him about his ex-wife.
The FBI said it was investigating whether Mateen had visited venues to scout them out for a possible attack.
“We are working to understand what role anti-gay bigotry may have played in motivating this attack,” director James Comey said. “But we are highly confident that this killer was radicalised and at least in some part through the internet.”
The 29-year-old was shot dead in a gun battle with police who stormed Pulse with armoured vehicles after a three-hour siege.
Mateen called 911 as he held hostages in a bathroom, pledging allegiance to Isis leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and talking about the Boston bombers and a man who became a suicide bomber for the al-Qaeda-linked Jabhat al-Nusra in Syria.
Co-workers reported him to the FBI in 2013 after he had made “inflammatory and contradictory” statements, including a claim that he had family connections to al-Qaeda and Hezbollah but investigators found no evidence of a link.
“Mentally deranged psychopathic closet homosexual”
Commenting on the reports, American Muslim theologian Yasir Qadhi wrote: “It has now been confirmed, by multiple sources, that Omar Mateen, the shooter in the Orlando massacre, was himself gay. He frequently visited the same club that he committed the massacre in, and he attempted to initiate dates on a famous gay-dating app.
“His wife, father and community have all claimed that he was not religious in the slightest. Multiple eyewitness reports indicate that he would get drunk at the very club he committed the massacre in, and would have to be kicked out because of his unruly behavior.
“Colleagues and acquaintances have mentioned that he was a loner, a social introvert, and prone to make violent statements and threats against other people. His wife left him because he beat her and was physically abusive.
“Yet, the media continues to ask questions about ‘radical Islam’ and about Islam’s stance on homosexuality. What blatant hypocrisy! He wasn’t a ‘radical Muslim’. He was a mentally deranged psychopathic American closet homosexual who was battling with his sexual identity.
“Instead of concentrating on his mental issues, and on the easy gun laws that our country is notorious for, politicians and media pundits wish to cast all of that aside, and choose the easier target of questioning his faith, and of Islam’s stance on sexual issues.
“The guy was mental, plain and simple. Islam’s stance on homosexuality is IRRELEVANT to this massacre, period.”