Witnesses: Orlando Shooter Was a Regular at Pulse

By Kenrya Rankin Jun 14, 2016

The Orlando Sentinel reports that at least four witnesses say that Omar Mateen, the man who killed 49 people at an Orlando gay club on June 12, regularly attended parties at the club.

“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 newspaper. “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.”

Another regular, Kevin West, told the Los Angeles Times that he and Mateen messaged each other via gay chat app Jack’d and they met in person for the first time the night of the shooting. “He walked directly past me. I said, ‘Hey,’ and he turned and said, ‘Hey,’” West said.

And during a phone interview with CNN host Anderson Cooper yesterday (June 13), caller Chris Callen—who was a performer at Pulse—said that Mateen was there at least twice a month for at least three years. “I was going on Tuesdays and I would maybe twice month see him on Tuesday nights,” he said. “He was very friendly when we said, ‘Hi.’ He didn’t seem like the kind of guy that just did what he did.”

CNN also reports that Mateen conducted “surveillance” trips to Pulse and Walt Disney World between June 1 and June 6. Gay Days 2016 celebrations were underway both at the amusement park and other places in the city during that time period.

The Guardian posted this report:

Jim Van Horn, 71, told The Associated Press Mateen was a “regular” at the Pulse nightclub where the murders took place. “He was trying to pick up people. Men,” he said. “He was a homosexual and he was trying to pick up men. He would walk up to them and then he would maybe put his arm round them or something … That’s what people do at gay bars. That’s what we do.”

Asked what went through his mind when he saw his picture, Van Horn, who lost three friends in the shooting, said: “We just went, ‘Oh. That makes sense. That’s Omar.’”

He added: “I think it’s possible that he was trying to deal with his inner demons, of trying to get rid of his anger of homosexuality. It’s really confusing to me. Because you can’t change who you are. But if you pretend that you’re different, then you may shoot up a gay bar.”