|“||I pledge allegiance to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. May God protect him, on behalf of the Islamic State.||”|
— Mateen in a 911 call during the massacre
Omar Mir Seddique Mateen was an American mass murderer and terrorist who perpetrated the June 12, 2016 Orlando nightclub shooting, which left 50 people dead (including Mateen himself) and injured 53 others.
Mateen was born November 16, 1986, in New Hyde Park, New York to Persian-speaking Afghan parents; his father became a naturalized American citizen in 1989. He had a brother and two sisters, who were also born in New York. In 1991, the family moved to St. Lucie, Florida, where they were described as "moderate Muslims" and "an all-American family", although there was also an incident in 2002 in which Mateen's mother was taken into custody after allegedly attacking his father.
Mateen was a problematic child in Elementary School. In the Third Grade, it was written that he was "very active... constantly moving, verbally abusive, rude, aggressive... much talk about violence & sex... hands all over the place – on other children, in his mouth"; in the Seventh Grade, he was moved to another class to avoid conflicts with other students. He was described both as a bully and as a victim of bullying due to his weight and Afghan heritage. His teachers complained about his behavior to his father, but he seemed to dismiss any criticism to his son, especially when the teacher remitting it was female.
His behavior became worse when he began High School in 2000. At 14, he was expelled and briefly arrested after being in a fight, but the charges were dropped. Henceforth, he attended a special school for teenagers with behavioral problems. In 9/11, he cheered in support of the hijackers and claimed that Osama bin Laden was his uncle and that he had trained him in shooting AK-47s. After this outburst, which got him suspended for 5 days, Mateen's father came to pick him up at school and he slapped his son in public. Nevertheless, his father would continue to side with his son whenever teachers tried to counsel him. Mateen changed schools twice again and got suspended another 48 days for being involved in fights and injuring other students, before graduating in 2003. In 2006, he succeeded in earning an associate science degree in criminal justice technology and became a recruit for the Florida Department of Corrections; however, he was forcefully dismissed in 2007 after he expressed his desire to bring a gun to class in the aftermath of the Virginia Tech Shooting, and he never graduated as a corrections officer. Afterward, Mateen worked as a security guard for G4S Secure Solutions, where he was screened twice without incident. G4S would later be fined for subjecting Mateen and several other employees to screenings by unqualified personnel.
Marriages and sexuality
In April 2009, Mateen married his first wife, a Uzbekistani woman whom he met in 2008 through Myspace. They separated after four months and divorced in July 2011. Later that year, Mateen met his second wife, Noor Zahi Salman, on an online dating site, and the two married shortly afterward in Hercules, California. Salman had been born in California to Muslim Palestinian immigrants. She moved into Mateen's Fort Pierce home in November 2012; by September 2013, they were living in Port St. Lucie with Mateen's father and another relative. She left Mateen and joined relatives in Rodeo, California, by December 2015. At the time of his death, Mateen had a three-year-old son with her. Both of Mateen's wives claimed that he was abusive and possibly bipolar.
In the aftermath of the shooting, there were persistent rumors that Mateen was a closeted homosexual or bisexual, and that he had visited gay nightclubs several times but never interacted with other customers, just drinking to himself. However, no homosexual relationships of Mateen were ever proven, and there were also times when he was angered to see homosexual couples or he made homophobic remarks. The FBI was skeptical about Mateen being homosexual and they even uncovered evidence that he had cheated on his wives with other women.
Mateen came to the attention of the FBI in May 2013, when he told co-workers that he was a member of Hezbollah and that his family had ties to al-Qaeda (organizations that are enemies of the Islamic State in addition to each other). When interrogated, he said he made such statements in anger because his coworkers were teasing him, and ten months later he was taken out of the terrorist watchlist and considered not a threat. However, in July 2014 he was investigated again for his possible relation to Moner Mohammad Abu Salha, an American Muslim who had attended Mateen's mosque before committing a suicide bombing against the Syrian Army for the al-Nusra Front, one month earlier. In the months leading to the shooting, he watched extremist videos in his computer, including beheadings, and searched for information on the Islamic State. His second wife was aware that he watched such videos but she did not think much of it because the FBI had cleared him.
Orlando nightclub shooting and death
At approximately 2:00 a.m. on June 12, 2016, Mateen entered the gay-oriented Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida, and began shooting. Beginning at 2:22 a.m., he made different 9-1-1 calls in which he identified himself as a "Mujahideen", "Islamic soldier" and "Soldier of God"; pledged allegiance to the Islamic State and its leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi; referenced the Boston Bombers Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev; mentioned Abu Salha; and claimed that the shooting had been triggered by the death of Abu Wahib, an IS commander, by an airstrike in Iraq six weeks before. He also called News 13 of Orlando and identified himself as the nightclub shooter. When police arrived, Mateen took hostages and engaged in a gunfight with them. At
approximately 5:00 a.m., police shot and killed Mateen, ending the shooting. A total of 49 people were left dead along with Mateen and 58 others were injured. Mateen was reported to have fired at least 110 rounds during the entire event. The attack was the second most deadly mass shooting by a single gunman after the 2017 shooting in Las Vegas, and the deadliest incident of violence against LGBT people in U.S. history.
After the shooting, Mateen was buried in the Muslim Cemetery of South Florida, in Hialeah Gardens. An autopsy found that Mateen was shot eight times by police in the head, chest, abdomen, calf, feet, and toe. The bullet went through from front to back, suggesting Mateen was shot while facing officers. Several lacerations and "blunt-force injuries", such as bruising and scrapes to his torso, were also found, though the origin of these wounds is unclear. After the shooting, Mateen's second wife was arrested and charged with aiding and abetting as well as obstruction of justice, to which she pled not guilty.
Mateen used a SIG MCX Semi-automatic rifle and a 9mm Glock 17 that he purchased expressly for the shooting. He also attempted to purchase body armor and 1,000 rounds of bulk ammunition from different stores, but was prevented either because the shop was out of stock, or the seller was suspicious. In the night of the shooting, he bypassed the Pulse's security guard (who was also an off duty police officer) and did not engage him until other officers arrived. He often shot victims after they were down to be sure they were dead, and took hostages that he would kill randomly. During the shooting, Mateen told people that he had a bomb and snipers posted around the club, and that he wouldn't stop his assault "until America stopped bombing [his] country". When the rifle jammed, he switched to the Glock. A third weapon was left by Mateen in his car and not used in the shooting.
All of the following were attacked during the 2016 Pulse Nightclub shooting.
On Criminal Minds
- Season Thirteen
- Season Fourteen
- "Twenty Seven" - Mateen was referenced again.