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Orlando Shooter Omar Mateen Reportedly Visited Pulse Nightclub Several Times Before Massacre

Omar Mateen may not have been a stranger to Pulse nightclub. At least four of the Orlando, Florida, club’s regular patrons said they believe they saw the gunman there on several occasions before the massacre in the early hours of Sunday, June 12. 

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“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,” Ty Smith told the Orlando Sentinel. “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.”

Smith said he saw Mateen, 29, at Pulse at least a dozen times. Orlando Police Chief John Mina told the Orlando Sentinel he had no information about Mateen’s previous visits to the club. 

Omar Mateen
Omar Mateen

As Us Weekly previously reported, Mateen killed 49 people and injured at least 53 others after he barged into the nightclub just after 2 a.m. and open fired on the crowd with an assault rifle and a handgun. Police shot and killed him after a three-hour standoff. Prior to the shooting, Mateen — who was born in New York but whose parents are from Afghanistan — reportedly called 911, pledging allegiance to ISIS and praising the Boston Marathon bombers. The Islamic State group has since claimed responsibility for the attack, the deadliest shooting in the history of the U.S.

According to previous reports, his father, Seddique Mateen, has claimed that Omar was angered when he saw two men kissing a few months ago. Seddique also claimed in an interview with ABC News on June 12 that he doesn’t believe that his son was radicalized. 

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The younger Mateen, who previously worked as a security guard at a gated retirement community and at the St. Lucie County Courthouse, was previously investigated by the FBI in 2013 for making comments to his coworkers that claimed ties to terrorism. According to FBI Director James Comey, the agency interviewed him three times, tailed him and tapped his phone calls, but after 10 months, they closed the case and concluded he was not a threat. Then in early 2014, the FBI investigated him again for ties to a suicide bomber in Syria, but ultimately took him off the watch list in May 2014.

Pulse Nightclub
An aerial view of the mass shooting scene at Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida, on Sunday, June 12, 2016.

Omar purchased the guns legally at St. Lucie Shooting Center in Florida a few days prior to the fatal shooting. The owner said he had to go through the same three-day waiting period as all customers. Nothing in Omar’s background prohibited him from purchasing the weapons.

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Since the tragic incident, LGBT civil rights organization Equality Florida has started a GoFundMe page to raise money for the victims and families. As of Monday, the fund had already received more than $2 million in donations. Local Orlando citizens can also help out by donating blood to those who were injured. 

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