Orlando shooter Omar Mateen was a homosexual, according to a regular of Pulse nightclub, where 49 people lost their lives on Sunday during Mateen’s rampage.
Jim Van Horn, a regular customer at the LGBT nightclub, told the Associated Press that Mateen often visited the club to meet men.
“He was trying to pick up people, men. He’s a homosexual and he was trying to pick up men,” Van Horn said. “That’s what people do at gay bars.”
Van Horn says he met Mateen once, but his friends urged him not to talk to the “strange person.”
Members of the gay community in Orlando have claimed that Mateen had previously visited Pulse on a number of occasions, and the FBI is now looking into these claims.
He also used the gay chat and dating app Jack’d, clubgoer Kevin West told the Los Angeles Times. At least four other regulars at the nightclub said they had seen him there before on up to a dozen occasions.
Mateen, 29, was born in New York City to Afghan parents. He worked as a private security guard and lived in Port St. Lucie, Florida, which lies 125 miles south of Orlando, where the massacre took place. He was killed by police during a shootout after he stormed the gay nightclub at around 2 a.m. ET Sunday and carried out the most deadly mass shooting in U.S. history, leaving 49 dead and 53 wounded.
The shooter, who has been described as “mentally ill” by his ex-wife, called 911 during the attack and reportedly pledged his allegiance to ISIS. Amaq Agency, a news outlet associated with the so-called Islamic State, reported the terror group claimed responsibility for the violence, which would mark the worst terror attack on U.S. soil since the events of Sept. 11, 2001.
“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, according to the Orlando Sentinel.
“We didn’t really talk to him a lot, but I remember him saying things about his dad at times,” Smith continued. “He told us he had a wife and child.”
Other witnesses say that he’d been frequenting the club for at least three years. One recalled Mateen having to be escorted out drunk on multiple occasions, and another said he stopped talking to him after Mateen made violent threats because someone made a joke about religion.
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