The Los Angeles Times and the Orlando Sentinel quote multiple sources as saying Omar Mateen had been spotted drinking at the Pulse Nightclub a various times prior to the shooting. According to media outlets, Mateen also interacted online using profiles on Grindr, Adam4Adam and Jack’d.
Kevin West, who frequently visits Pulse Nightclub, reportedly said Mateen messaged him on and off for a year on Jack’d before the shooting. The two never met until early Sunday just prior to the attack when West was dropping off a friend at the club.
“He walked directly past me. I said, ‘Hey,’ and he turned and said, ‘Hey,’” and nodded his head,” West was quoted as saying. “I could tell by the eyes.”
Ty Smith, another patron at the club, is quoted as saying he saw Mateen at there at least a dozen times prior to the shooting.
“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,” Smith, who also uses the name Aries, is quoted as saying.
On MSNBC’s “All In” with Chris Hayes, Cord Cedeno, who frequents Pulse nightclub and lost friends there, recognized Mateen from his photos as someone who had messaged him on Grindr.
“I recognize him from one of the apps, but I instantly blocked him because he was like very creepy in his messages and I blocked him immediately,” Cedeno said.
Cedeno said Mateen was also on Jack’d and came into the Pulse Nightclub “several times.” Further, Cedeno said he has a friend who recognizes Mateen from 2007 on the Adam4Adam website.
“I think one of them he didn’t have his pictures up, but he would send them to guys,” Cedeno said. “I know there’s plenty of other guys that he’s tried to contact and hook up from. A lot of them are scared to come out and tell the FBI.”
Mateen, 29, was divorced from his wife, who reportedly said he was quick to anger and would beat her during their relationship. With her, Mateen has a three-year old son. Prior to the shooting, Mateen reportedly called 911 and pledged allegiance to the Islamic State of Iraq & Syria, which is known for its execution of people perceived as LGBT.
The FBI, which is leading the investigation of the shooting in conjunction with local law enforcement, had no comment in response to a Washington Blade inquiry on whether the agency corroborate Mateen was a patron at the nightclub or on gay hookup apps.