Time: 5:50 p.m. CEST
Revealing of many unknown details could possibly give more concrete answers why 29-years-old Omar Mateen entered in the nightclub in Orlando early Sunday and opened a fire toward gathering people inside the club. The tragedy after the three hours of stand off with the police left 49 people dead and 53 injured and shocked the world. The youngest victim of the Pulse nightclub visitors who died was only 18-years-old, while the oldest who died was 50-years-old. Many of their life stories ended abruptly and suddenly during the hours for dance and socialize.
Why Omar Mateen did what he did early Sunday in the club, now some claim, he visited several times before. The questions on his motive remain unanswered, because his story does not only offer a straight path, but just open new sideways for a possible motive. It is unclear if Mateen really hated homosexuals and people different of his race. However, he pulled the trigger of the assault rifle AR-15 and a handgun in a club who welcomed homosexuals.
Mateen bought a military weapon just a week before the attack. He passed all background checks and committed one of the deadly shootings in the United States. But, who was Mateen, a person who managed to work as a security guard for several companies and succeed to enter the nightclub with weapons and open the fire on innocent people?
In the corner
Small details emerge in the media for his personality shared by his relatives, former spouse or people who meet with him on different occasions. According to the video from the Islamic Center Community in Florida, a man who prayed at the local mosques recalls on him as someone who would come average three times a week at the last prayer. He came to the mosque with his three-years-old son and probably he rushed to take his son, as soon as prayer would end and he would leave.
“He would come average three times a week. And he came to the last prayer. It was a person who will come and sit there, at the corner, his son will play around, as soon as the prayer is done, he would take his son and would leave,” a board member of the Islamic Community in Florida says about 29-years-old Omar Mateen, who entered into the night club in Orlando and killed 49 people. Mateen tried to accommodate to the life in America, as well, although he was born and educated in the U.S.
Mateen, 29, was born in New York to Afghan immigrants described by one family friend as loving, close-knit and “very respectful” of America. His clan ended up in Florida, where he attended Indian River State College in Fort Pierce, a two-hour drive south of Orlando. He graduated with an associate of science degree in criminal-justice technology in 2006, and later got a job as a private security guard. He was fascinated with law enforcement, people who knew him said. He was married twice, and was the father of a 3-year-old boy.
However, he adapted slowly with trying to accept going out at night in clubs, something that possibly conflicted with his religion. At least, four-regular customers at Orlando gay nightclub say they witnessed Mateen have been there before. Despite the attempt for going our, he would also sit in the corner, and usually having a drink alone. Even though no one can now confirm to which extent he drank, the customers of nightclub Pulse say after he would get drunk and it was loud. “Sometimes, he would go over in the corner and sit and drink by himself, and other times he would get so drunk by himself, and other times he would get so drunk he was loud and belligerent,” Ty Smith said.
Was Mateen’s family life different, than the life of other families of immigrants who arrived in the U.S. from the conflicting areas in the Middle East and Asia? As many others with split identities, Omar Mateen and his family were striving immigrants.
Omar had his dark moments, as relatives, friends, ex-classmates, friends, ex-classmates, former co-workers and few acquaintances recall about him. Omar Mateen’s background was from Afghanistan and his father, who tried to maintain the ties with his homeland, attempted to guide his son with Afghan rules, but accommodated to the new reality. But, Omar Mateen felt under the burden having the difficulty of the family and the pressure of the community and searching of his real identity.
He lived in a small town in Florida, although it was born the New York City, but passed through a period of bullying in school during the education and probably he wanted to dream big after changing his job posts, feeling frustrated. Sometimes, Omar Mateen, as his ex-spouse recalled, was unpredictable, occasionally violent. In his folder of behavior he, was sporadically religious, but prone to anger.
Omar Mateen probably entered the club with assault weapon AR-15 and a handgun shortly after 2:00 a.m. and opens the fire on the main dance floor in the club. Three hours after he entered the club, sometimes after 5:00 a.m. Sunday, Mateen died in an exchange of fires with the police in the area of the club’s restrooms after police broke off the walls of the club. An off-duty security officer opens fire, together with other officers who responded earlier but they did not stop Mateen.
Despite, Mateen continued his walk inside the club and from the dance floor area he passed toward the restrooms.
As of Sunday, the Orlando Sentinel publishes, Amanda Alvear, who died in the shooting, was recording a video to post on the social media network Snapchat, as gunfire erupted inside Pulse nightclub. Orlando Sentinel says, “Survivor Selvin Dubon, 30, saw Mateen moving across the dance floor toward the VIP seating area, firing both his rifle and a handgun.” Eddie Justice, who also died contacted his mother to alarm her on the shootings in the club.
After several dramatic minutes, Mateen made three 911 calls, allegedly said he is doing this because wanted America to stop bombing his country, as Patience Carter said and it is published by Orlando Sentinel. Police confirmed Mateen 911’s call, but to this moment they do not release the call. Even a week after the shooting took place at the popular nightclub, the authorities are not releasing the 911 call Mateen reportedly placed after calling an emergency, which they hold as an evidence he pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group. “We have received many requests for 911 recordings. This is an active investigation and there are no plans to release them at this time,” Orlando Police stated on their Twitter account.
Mateen entered the club with the weapons that he obtained legally in the absence of any criminal record, which would ban to him possibility to buy the weapons. Mateen passed all background checks before he purchased the guns and was able to work as an armed guard. Even though, he needed to wait for three days under the Florida law before obtaining the assault rifle, his background checks were clear and he armed himself with a gun.
But, the life of Mateen was not a note with only white pages as the Federal Bureau of Investigation twice questioned him. Mateen was not banned to posses a gun as he did not have a criminal record, did not have a misdemeanor domestic violence, or did not spend the time in the mental health institution. Global security company G4S employed Mateen since 2007.
National Public Radio’s Dina Temple – Raston analyses Mateen’s final moments before the end of the almost three-hours police standoff. “We know that during the attack the gunman posted messages on Facebook saying he was doing this on behalf of ISIS. But officials have yet to find any of the precursors usually associated with radicalization. They’ve interviewed dozens of people who either knew him or had contact with Mateen, ”
Temple writes in the NPR’s article Investigators Say Orlando Shooter Showed Few Warning Signs of Radicalization. What was another sign or indications that Mateen changed his behavior toward radicalization? Nothing that could raise the alarm prior to the shooting, because he was going to the same mosque, probably sit in the same corner, his relation with the family was the typical for the family adopting to the life in the foreign country.
The FBI had Mateen’s name on their watch list. FBI interviewed him three times in two separate investigations. Mateen made inflammatory comments to co-workers, which raised their concerns, and the other one was about possible links to Moner Mohammad Abu Salha, a U.S. resident who went to Syria and blew himself. However, neither of the investigations showed any signs of his radicalization.
After the mass shooting, which authorities called “an act of terror,” the FBI’s director James Comey said, “As far as we can tell right now, this is certainly an example of the kind of homegrown extremism that all of us have been so concerned about for a very long time.” FBI’s prior contacts with the killer began in May 2013, but the agency closed all prior investigations on him. Comey confirmed, Mateen made three 911 calls, and mentioned Islamic State group, as the bomber of the 2013 Boston Marathon attack did. Regardless the strong points on possible radicalization and eventual inspiration by foreign terrorism organizations, Mateen as the authorities pointed out, radicalized over the internet.
According to the University of Maryland’s National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism analysis with violent hate crimes and group-based terrorism quotes a definition of four researchers (McCauley, Moskalenko, and Van Son 2013, 4). They identify four common characteristics – “perceived grievance, depression, a personal crisis (‘unfreezing’), and history of weapons use outside the military” – and allege that these characteristics may be useful in distinguishing lone actors from group-based terrorists.”
From 1992 to 2011, Florida had four lone-actors terrorism cases, and 1,921 case of violent hate-crime. The data of START global terrorism database and FBI’s data show, “the targets of lone actors tended to be private citizens and abortion facilities.” In the case of Orlando shooting, almost all victims were members of the LGBT communities.