Reports reveal the alleged homophobic Orlando gay club shooter, 29-year-old Omar Mateen, once had homosexual friends.
“I can’t believe i knew this dude…. He worked at GNC at the treasure coast mall when i was at Ruby Tuesday’s and he Graduated from the same high school in 2004,” the openly gay Samuel King wrote on his Facebook page, reports the Daily Beast. “He was a jokester and at the time didn’t have an issue with the LGBT community.”
King adds many of their co-workers were gay and Mateen never seemed to have a problem with it.
“That’s the thing that’s pinning me to the wall the most, that it was a gay nightclub,” King said. “Because he would come into the [the restaurant] and laugh with us.”
Yet with time, Mateen’s demeanor changed.
Syed Shafeeq Rahman, Imam at the Islamic Center Mateen attended, said he’d watched Mateen grow from a cheerful, active child to an increasingly reserved man.
“He would not talk to anybody, but would just smile,” he said.
It’s not clear what caused the changes, but Mateen’s ex-wife’s experiences with her abusive husband may provide some insight.
“A few months after we were married I saw his instability, I saw his bipolar, and he would get mad out of nowhere, and that’s when I started worrying about my safety,” said Sitora Yusufiy, an immigrant from Uzbekistan, Newsweek reports. “Then after a few months he started abusing me physically.”
"He would often get into fights with his parents, but as I was the only one in his life most of the violence was directed [toward] me,” she added.
She wasn’t the only one who saw him act out.
More recent co-workers describe Mateen as aggressive and homophobic, with one reporting him to the FBI in 2013 for allegedly making comments implying he was tied to terrorists.
“When I saw his picture on the news, I thought, of course, he did that,” said another co-worker, Eric Baumer. “He had bad things to say about everybody—blacks, Jews, gays, a lot of politicians, our soldiers. He had a lot of hate in him. He told me America destroyed Afghanistan.”
Colleague Daniel Gilroy said Mateen stalked him but the company didn’t do anything because he was Muslim, so Gilroy quit.
“This guy was unhinged and unstable. He talked of killing people,” he added.