In the early morning hours of June 12, a gunman invaded the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida. The gunman, identified as Omar Mateen, 29 of Fort Pierce, Florida, opened fired with automatic and semi-automatic weapons, creating an unimaginable level of confusion and chaos.
By the time law enforce was able to rally its forces, bust into the venue and kill the gunman, there were at least 50 dead bodies and another 53 people being sent to local hospitals for treatment of gunshot wounds. Leaving little doubt about his motivation for the carnage, Mateen had placed a 911 call to police, claiming his allegiance to ISIS.
Despite early claims that this was simply an act of terrorism carried out on behalf of ISIS, there was another possible motivation for the killings. This might have also been a “hate crime” carried out in opposition to the LBGT community. This possible explanation has been given credence due the fact that Pulse is a popular nightclub with a large gay customer base. Mateen’s parents also claimed their son had recently expressed disgust over seeing two men kissing in public.
While it’s too early in the investigation to make other assessments about the worst mass murder in U.S. history, here are a few things known about Mateen.
He was born in New York in 1986. His parents are immigrants from Afghanistan. He was married to a woman from Uzbekistan in 2009. In preliminary interviews, his ex-wife has made claims about his alleged mental and emotional problems that lead him to be physically abusive towards her.
In 2013 and again in 2014, Mateen was interviewed by the FBI for possible ties to terrorism and radical Islam. Those interviews led nowhere as agents were unable to establish whether or not he presented a danger to the community.
In the coming days and weeks, more information will be forthcoming related to Mateen’s motivation and his possible connections to ISIS. Until then, the country is left to mourn another 50 victims who were needlessly murdered at the hands of a madman.