New York, Jun 14: 29-year-old Omar Mateen, who gunned down 49 people at a gay club in Orlando, himself might have been gay but chose to hide his true identity out of anger and shame, his former wife has said as authorities looked into reports that he had visited the Florida club several times and also used a gay dating app.
Sitora Yusufiy said she had met Mateen online in 2008 and the two got married in 2009. He "might have been gay but chose to hide his true identity out of anger and shame", she said. A New York Times report cited a senior federal law enforcement official as saying that the FBI was looking at reports that Mateen had used a gay dating app.
Patrons of Pulse, the club where he killed 49 people in the worst shooting case in US history, were quoted as saying that he had visited the club several times. Yusufiy said that her ex-husband had told her that he frequented nightclubs before their marriage, but that he did not tell her they were gay clubs.
CBS News said in a report that club-goers have told investigators that Mateen had been at Pulse previously. The Orlando Sentinel and other news organizations also quoted regular customers at the gay bar as saying they had seen Mateen there a number of times.
"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," said Ty Smith, a patron at the bar. Smith said he saw Mateen inside the club at least a dozen times.
Yusufiy, during an interview at her home in Colorado, said Mateen had seemed "perfect American enough for her free spirit and Muslim enough to please her traditional family.
"This man was a simple, Americanized guy that was also from my culture. And, you know, had the same religion," she said. "So I was like, OK , this could potentially satisfy my parents." She moved to Florida, and they married in a quiet courthouse ceremony in 2009, but the short-lived marriage was marred by violence and isolation, she said.
She had no friends or family in Florida, and Mateen preferred that she stay in the house. She said he sometimes returned from work angry and agitated, including one night when she fell asleep on the floor waiting for him to return home.