Sunday morning’s Orlando nightclub shooting left 49 people dead and almost as many questions surrounding the gunman’s motive. FBI Director James Comey believes Omar Mateen was radicalized, which also presents confusion, as Mateen pledged allegiance ISIS while also claiming solidarity with parties who are in conflict or unaffiliated with the Islamic State. However, many who knew Mateen all agreed on one thing — that he displayed both unhinged and homophobic behavior. Comey pointedly defended the FBI for letting Mateen slip off the radar after multiple interviews. That unfortunate fact speaks to the difficulty in figuring out whether someone who’s loosely affiliated with a suicide bomber (as Mateen was) also poses a danger to society.
Mateen’s personal life, especially in relation to his expressed homophobia, also presents contradictions while authorities pinpoint a motive. One drag queen friend of Mateen’s says there was no indication of homophobia during their friendship. And other reports indicate that Mateen frequented Pulse nightclub and possibly used a gay dating app. All of this information collides with TMZ’s statement from Mateen’s first wife, who says he displayed “homosexual tendencies.” This woman, Sitora Yusufiy, previously reported Mateen’s violent ways. In addition, Mateen was married to his second wife when he set off on his rampage, and she was aware of his plans.
Many people report witnessing Mateen’s rage-filled tendencies, yet little action was taken. TMZ reports how he was suspended in fifth grade for threatening that “he was going to bring a gun to school and kill everyone.” And now Mateen’s current wife, Noor, is under criminal investigation. Authorities believe she knew something about her husband’s planned attack, but Noor explains that she tried to sway him away from these plans:
Omar Mateen’s wife, Noor Zahi Salman, told the FBI she was with him when he bought ammunition and a holster, several officials familiar with the case said. She told the FBI that she once drove him to the gay nightclub, Pulse, because he wanted to scope it out.
Authorities are considering filing criminal charges against Noor for failing to tell them what she knew before the brutal attack, law enforcement officials say, but no decision has been made. She is cooperating with investigators, several officials say.
It’s difficult to understand how so many people, and even the FBI, understood that Mateen set off alarm bells, but no one would or could stop him. He murdered 49 people, and the death toll could have been even worse. CNN reports that Mateen targeted Disney Springs (which he visited with Noor in tow) as a possible target for a rampage. The loss of life would have been enormous in such an entertainment complex.