As police continue to release details about the Orlando massacre and the victims, a clearer picture of the suspected shooter is emerging.
Omar Mateen, 29, of Fort Pierce, Fla., has been identified as the perpetrator of the Pulse gay nightclub shooting that left 49 dead and 53 injured. He was killed by police in a firefight during a rescue operation to get dozens of hostages to safety.
Mateen is alleged to have called police 20 minutes into his attack to pledge allegiance to ISIS and attribute the attack to their cause.
Prior to Sunday’s attack, Mateen is said to have seemed like a regular Muslim-American: born in New York to Afghani immigrant parents, Mateen was educated between his home state and Florida, where he lived at the time of the shooting.
Mateen also was a body builder, a licensed security guard, and a father of a three-year-old boy. He spoke English and Farsi fluently.
Syed Shafeeq Rahman, the imam at the mosque Mateen attended in St. Pierce, Fla., has known him since he was a child. He describes Mateen as a serious, quiet and regular worshipper who never exhibited any signs of violence.
“When he finished prayer he would just leave,” Rahman told The Associated Press. “He would not socialize with anybody. He would be quiet. He would be very peaceful.”
Mateen’s father, Seddique Mir Mateen, says he had no idea his son might have been planning an attack, but noted an incident about a month ago, when Mateen was enraged by the sight of two men kissing in Miami. Seddique said he did not condone his son’s violence.
“We are saying we are apologizing for the whole incident,” Seddique said. “We are in shock like the whole country.”
But others close to Mateen remember a different side of the suspect.
His ex-wife Sitora Yusufiy talked to reporters in Boulder, CO., on Sunday, calling her ex-husband “bipolar… deeply disturbed.”
The two married in 2007 and split four months later. Yusufiy now claims her family rescued her from an abusive relationship.
She also alleged her ex-husband abused steroids, which exacerbated his “emotional instability” during their marriage.
Despite this, Yusufiy says she never suspected Mateen – who aspired to be a police officer – was capable of such violence.
Because of his security guard licence from his job with security company G4S, Mateen was able to legally buy the firearms he used in the attack in Florida.
Police say Mateen used an AR-15-type assault rifle and unknown amount of ammunition in the shooting. He also carried a handgun. A third weapon was found in his vehicle.
A spokesman for The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms confirms the guns were purchased in the last week or so.
This news shocked the public after it was also discovered the FBI had Mateen on their radar as recently as 2014 and that he was interviewed by the organization three times.
After concerns were registered about comments Mateen was making to co-workers, allegedly about extremist statements, the FBI opened a file on him in 2013. He was interview twice that year, but the file was quickly closed according to an FBI spokesman, after they deemed the information “inconclusive”.
In 2014 Mateen was back in the crosshairs of the FBI for alleged ties to American suicide bomber Moner Abu Salha. They determined contact was “minimal” and did not constitute “a threat at that time”.
The FBI confirmed Mateen was not under surveillance at the time of the nightclub shooting.
American law does not prohibit selling firearms to people suspected of terrorism.
Mateen had no other criminal record.