The Orlando shooter might have been gay, according to a source who knew Omar Mateen.
Omar Mateen, who shot and killed 49 people and injured 53 more at Orlando nightclub Pulse, was believed to be gay by his fellow 2006 police academy classmates. A classmate, who has chosen to remain nameless, said that Mateen and his fellow students at the Indian River Community College police academy would sometimes attend gay night clubs after school. He added that the shooter at one point had romantic interest in him and asked him out on a date, reported 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.”
Although the Orlando shooter could have been gay, he was not openly out. According to the classmate, Omar Mateen was an incredibly awkward man, and his classmates had briefly felt sorry for him.
Mateen had previously utilized a gay dating and chatting app called Jack’d, prior to his rampage at Pulse in Orlando, Florida. According to the Los Angeles Times, Omar Mateen had been messaging Pulse regular Kevin West off and on for a year. The two met early Sunday morning for the first time when West was dropping off his friend by the club.
The Orlando shooter was spotted by Kevin West crossing the street wearing a black cap and carrying a black cellphone at 1 a.m., an hour prior to the massacre.
“He walked directly past me. I said, ‘Hey,’ and he turned and said, ‘Hey.'”
From there, Kevin West knew that he had finally encountered the man he had been talking to for about a year on Jack’d.
“I could tell by the eyes,” West said when first meeting Omar Mateen.
The supposedly gay Orlando shooter had frequented Pulse before murdering dozens of club goers early Sunday morning. In an interview with the Orlando Sentinel, fellow club members said they had seen Mateen at Pulse before.
Ty Smith said he had encountered Omar Mateen on several occasions.
“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 said that during other visits to the club, he had briefly exchanged a few words with Mateen.
“We didn’t really talk to him a lot, but I remember him saying things about his dad at times…He told us he had a wife and child.”
The Orlando shooter who might have been gay has had several minor incidents regarding his behavior at Pulse. Chris Callen, who performs at the club under the name Kristina McLaughlin, said he had seen Mateen at Pulse on several occasions. Callen told the Palm Beach Post that multiple times Omar Mateen had been escorted out of the LGBTQ club. The performer said Mateen had once been removed from Pulse after he had pointed a knife at Callen’s friend. Chris Callen also added that he had suspected that Mateen had been attending Pulse for at least three years prior to the shooting.
The father of the Orlando shooter, Seddique Mateen, claims that his son wasn’t gay, he said in an interview with the Palm Beach Post.
“If he was gay, why would he do something like this?”
Omar Mateen’s former classmate said that he and a group of students at the police academy had attended a slew of gay clubs in 2006 in Florida, including Kashmir Night Club in West Palm Beach, Byrd Cage in Port St. Lucie, Cold Keg in Melbourne, and Rebar in Port St. Lucie. Cold Keg has closed since then.
[Photo by Gerardo Mora/Getty Images]