Orlando killer had help — and law enforcement plans to arrest accomplice
Police are planning to arrest an alleged accomplice who helped gunman Omar Mateen carry out a mass shooting that killed at least 50 people and injured dozens more at an Orlando LGBT nightclub.
A top law enforcement source told WFTV-TV that the suspected accomplice would be arrested by Wednesday, but authorities did not release any additional details.
— WFTV Eyewitness News (@WFTV) June 13, 2016
The suspected accomplice is either in Florida or has ties to the state, the TV station reported.
The 29-year-old Mateen was killed in a shootout with police during the deadly rampage at Pulse nightclub.
Mateen worked as a security guard for G4S and had hoped to become a law enforcement officer, and former classmates at a police academy said he was socially awkward and apparently gay himself.
“We went to a few gay bars with him, and I was not out at the time, so I declined his offer,” said one former classmate at Indian River Community College.
The classmate said Mateen was not out, either, and other students felt sorry for him.
“He just wanted to fit in and no one liked him,” the classmate said. “He was always socially awkward.”
His father, Seddique Mir Mateen, has apologized for his son’s actions but said “God will punish those involved in homosexuality,” saying that was not a matter for humans to undertake.
The elder vehemently denied his son was gay.
“If he was gay, why would he do something like this?” Seddique Mateen asked.
Mateen married a woman he met online about eight years ago, and the couple had a son, but they divorced because he allegedly became abusive.
“He was not a stable person,” his ex-wife said.
Mateen, who was Muslim, became more religious after his divorce, and went several years ago on the pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia.
He claimed an allegiance to the Islamic State and was previously investigated by the FBI for ties to terrorism, although authorities still aren’t sure what links he had to terrorist groups.
But he continued going to gay bars and setting up profiles on gay dating apps — and was apparently a regular at Pulse.
At least four regular customers have identified Mateen as a regular at the LGBT club, saying he often drank alone there but sometimes became loud and belligerent.
One customer said Mateen threatened his friend with a knife.
Another customer said he exchanged messages with Mateen for about a year through the gay dating app Jack’d but never met him in person until he spotted him about 1 a.m. Sunday going into the club.
“He walked directly past me,” said Kevin West, who witnessed the deadly rampage. “I said, ‘Hey,’ and he turned and said, ‘Hey, and nodded his head. I could tell by the eyes.”