Friday 9 December 2016

Orlando gunman 'was a regular at LGBT nightclub Pulse' before attack 'and used gay dating apps'

Published 14/06/2016 | 07:17

Omar Mateen. Photo: Reuters
Omar Mateen. Photo: Reuters

At least four patrons of the Pulse bar have said they saw the gunman Omar Mateen drinking at the gay nightclub several times before the shooting.

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Ty Smith told The Telegraph that he saw Mateen inside at least a dozen 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," he said.

"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."

Chris Callen, who performs under the name Kristina McLaughlin and is married to Mr Smith, told the Canadian Press he had also seen Mateen there. 

“He’s been going to this bar for at least three years.”

Stanley Almodovar III
Stanley Almodovar III
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Luis Omar Ocasio-Capo
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Both Callen and Smith say they stopped speaking to Mateen after he threatened them with a knife, apparently after someone made a joke about religion.

“He ended up pulling a knife,” Callen said. “He said if he ever messed with him again, you know how it’ll turn out.”

As well as frequenting the gay nightclub before the attack, the gunman Omar Mateen is said to have used a gay dating app.

Nightclub regular Kevin West said Mateen messaged him on and off for a year before the shooting using the gay chat and dating app Jack’d, according to the LA Times. 

Mr West turned over his phone and Jack’d log-in information to the FBI, which still had the phone late Monday, he said.

Mr West said was dropping off a friend at the club on Saturday night when he noticed Mateen – whom he knew by sight but not by name – crossing the street wearing a dark cap and carrying a black mobile phone about 1 am, an hour before the shooting.

“He walked directly past me. I said, ‘Hey,’ and he turned and said, ‘Hey,’” and nodded his head, West said. “I could tell by the eyes.”

Cord Cedeno also said he saw him on the dating app, the Washington Post reports.

Police continue to investigate a shooting at the Pulse night club following an early morning shooting attack in Orlando, Florida, U.S June 12, 2016. REUTERS/Steve Nesius
Police continue to investigate a shooting at the Pulse night club following an early morning shooting attack in Orlando, Florida, U.S June 12, 2016. REUTERS/Steve Nesius
Julissa Leal displays a cellphone image of her missing brother, Frank Hernandez, as she speaks with the media outside a family reunification center
Emotional family members of the victims of the Orlando nightclub shooting leave a family reunification center set up at the Beardall Senior Center,

“He was open with his picture on the sites, he was easy to recognise,” said Cedeno, 23, of Orlando, who said he was also contacted by Mateen at least a year ago on a dating app.

More to follow...

People gather at a Rainbow Vigil at Barnado's Square to express their solidarity and sympathy with the victims of the Orlando shooting tragedy. Photo: Tony Gavin
People gather at a Rainbow Vigil at Barnado's Square to express their solidarity and sympathy with the victims of the Orlando shooting tragedy. Photo: Tony Gavin
People gather at a Rainbow Vigil at Barnado's Square to express their solidarity and sympathy with the victims of the Orlando shooting tragedy. Photo: Tony Gavin
People gather at a Rainbow Vigil at Barnado's Square to express their solidarity and sympathy with the victims of the Orlando shooting tragedy. Photo: Tony Gavin
Members of the LGBT choir Gloria sing at a Rainbow Vigil at Barnado's Square to express their solidarity and sympathy with the victims of the Orlando shooting tragedy. Photo: Tony Gavin
Ian Packham conducts the LGBT choir Gloria at a Rainbow Vigil at Barnado's Square to express solidarity and sympathy with the victims of the Orlando shooting tragedy. Photo: Tony Gavin 13/6/2016

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