As a grief-stricken public seeks an explanation for the deadliest mass shooting in US history, not to mention the deadliest ever attack on American LGBTQ people, news publications are examining the life and potential motivations of Omar Mateen, who on early Sunday morning shot and killed 49 people and injured 53 more at the Orlando gay nightclub Pulse. What we already know may be all we ever do: He was killed by law enforcement at the scene of the crime, he legally acquired the assault rifle he used to commit murder, and he was motivated by hate and mental health problems.
It's so far been reported that Mateen beat his ex-wife, and that, in a phone call to police before carrying out his deadly attack, he pledged allegiance to ISIS and invoked the 2013 Boston bombers by name. However, in an interview, Mateen's father claimed that his son was not animated by religion but instead by homophobia. Mateen was, according to his father, aggravated a few months ago when he "saw two men kissing in Miami."
Gawker now reports on two clues that will inevitably lead the public to speculate that Mateen was either extremely homophobic or extremely homophobic and also gay himself, though to suggest that would be extremely speculative. Those clues: First, Mateen had gone to Pulse many times, and second, that he had a gay dating app profile.
That first detail comes from the Canadian Press: A drag performing couple, Ty Smith and Chris Callen, says that Mateen had been to Pulse "more than a dozen" times over the course of at least three years.
"He's been around us," Smith told the GLBT Community Center of Central Florida per that report. Smith adds that "(He'd get) really, really drunk... He couldn't drink when he was at home — around his wife, or family. His father was really strict... He used to bitch about it."
The Orlando Sentinel has another quote from Smith, that "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.” Smith says Mateen was escorted from the club several times for this behavior.
Calleen, Smith's husband, recalls one instance in which Mateen was quick to threaten violence after some kind of joke was made. "He ended up pulling a knife," he said, "He said if he ever messed with him again, you know how it'll turn out."
The detail of Mateens' dating profile comes from MSNBC's Chris Hayes, who tweeted the following:
The man I spoke with today also said the shooter has messaged him on a gay dating app. His friend as well. We'll run the interview tonight.— Christopher Hayes (@chrislhayes) June 13, 2016
That interview is scheduled for 10 p.m. EST.
ABC7 NY also spoke with someone, perhaps the same person who talked to Hayes, who claims to have corresponded with Mateen. This is Kevin West: the two met on the dating app Jack'd.
"When he first contacted me, he was saying things like, 'What clubs are popping and things of that sort, what are good places to go?'" West told ABC. "And I remember telling him, 'Oh, you can just look it up online because I don't go out that much." West has now shared these messages with FBI agents.