Witnesses have revealed that Omar Mateen was a regular at Pulse, the gay nightclub in Orlando where he shot 50 people dead, and also had a profile on a gay dating app where he chatted with at least one gay man. He was also reportedly seen at the Walt Disney World Park in April.
According to the Orlando Sentinel, four witnesses who are also regulars at the club said they had seen Mateen there earlier.
"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... 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," Ty Smith was quoted by the daily as saying. He added that he had seen Mateen at the club a dozen times.
Kevin West, also a regular at Pulse, was quoted by the Los Angeles Times as saying the gunman chatted with him on and off on Jack'd, a gay chat application on which Mateen had a profile. But they never met until the day of the shooting.
West saw Mateen enter the gay nightclub at 1 a.m., an hour before the shooting. "He walked directly past me. I said, 'Hey,' and he turned and said, 'Hey,' and nodded his head... I could tell by the eyes," he said.
West is said to have immediately approached the local police station in his area after he saw Mateen's photograph. Upon being showed the gunman's photo, he recognised him and handed over to the FBI officials his phone and also the log-in information of Jack'd, LA Times reported.
According to the report by the Orlando Sentinel, two other regular customers â€” Cord Cedeno and Chris Callen â€” had said they had seen Mateen at the club many times before. "It was definitely him. He'd come in for years, and people knew him," Cedeno was quoted by the daily as saying.
Robert Zirkle, a high school acquaintance, described Mateen as a "regular dude" until the 9/11 attacks. "He started acting crazy, joking around the fact that 9/11 happened, making plane noises on the school bus and pretending he was slamming into the building... He was happy that Americans were dying. He made that very clear. I don't know if he was always a Muslim radical, but he was excited, hyped up. We were all, like, 'What are you talking about?'" he was quoted by LA Times as saying.
Mateen reportedly purchased the weapons he used from St Lucie Shooting Centre a few days before the incident. St Lucie owner Edward Henson was quoted by the Orlando Sentinel as saying: "He's a nobody... He's a customer. He came and purchased his guns, and he left." He added that he "vaguely" remembered Mateen.