Nightclub shooter was body builder, security guard

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ORLANDO — He was a body builder and a security guard, a religious man who attended the local mosque and wanted to become a police officer.

Early Sunday, 29-year-old Omar Mateen opened fire at a gay nightclub in Orlando. The shooting and hostage situation early Sunday morning at Pulse left at least 50 people dead, including the gunman, and more than 50 injured.

Mateen was born in New York to Afghan parents. He had no apparent criminal record and was working as a security guard before the attack.

He attended evening prayer services at the city’s Islamic Center three to four times a week, most recently with his young son, said Imam Syed Shafeeq Rahman.

Rahman said he knew Mateen and his family since the shooter was a young boy.

Playful as a child, he became more serious as an adult, Rahman said. He spoke both English and Farsi, and was into body building. He was not, as far as the imam could see, someone who would ever commit such a gruesome act of mass violence.

“It was totally unexpected,” Rahman said.

Although he was not very social, he also showed no signs of violence, he said.

Rahman last saw Mateen on Friday.

“When he finished prayer he would just leave,” Rahman told The Associated Press. “He would not socialize with anybody. He would be quiet. He would be very peaceful.”

Sitora Yusufy married Mateen in 2009, but left just months later. She said he was working to become a police officer, but after they married, he became volatile and abusive.

“A few months after we were married I saw his instability and I saw that he was bipolar and he would get mad out of nowhere,” Yusufy told reporters. “He was mentally unstable and mentally ill.”

Although records show the couple didn’t divorce for two years after the marriage, Yusiufiy said she was actually only with Mateen for four months because he was abusive. She said he would not let her speak to her family and that family members had to come and literally pull her out of his arms.

Mateen was married for a second time and had a three-year-old son.

Pledge to ISIS

Authorities immediately began investigating whether Sunday’s attack was an act of terrorism.

Sources told CBS News correspondent Jeff Pegues that Mateen called 911 from a bathroom inside the Orlando nightclub and pledged allegiance to ISIS.

During the call, Mateen referenced Boston Marathon bombers Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev.

Mateen gave his full name to 911 dispatchers, according to Pegues.

A U.S. intelligence source told CBS News senior investigative producer Pat Milton that Islamic terrorism is being investigated as a possible motive in the shooting because of several indicators, including the style of the attack, which had similarities to the attacks in Paris in November 2015 and Brussels in March.

Yusufiy said she was “devastated, shocked, started shaking and crying” when she heard about the shooting, but she attributed the violence to Mateen’s mental illness, not any alliance with terrorist groups.

Rahman agreed. “My personal opinion is that this has nothing to do with ISIS,” he said.

The suspect’s father has spoken out to the media, saying his son was anti-gay and he doesn’t believe the attack was motivated by religion.

Florida Rep. Alan Grayson said he believes the attack was “ideologically motivated.”

Sources tell CBS news senior investigative producer Pat Milton that authorities investigating the incident are still looking into whether the attack is a hate crime. But Grayson said he believes “it’s no coincidence that the attack took place where it did and when it did.”

“It might be that we’ve seen the commission of an awful hate crime last night,” Grayson said.

On FBI’s radar

Omar Mateen had been contacted by U.S. law enforcement at least twice in recent years. After traveling to Saudi Arabia in 2012 to attend the hajj — an annual pilgrimage to Mecca — Mateen surfaced on the FBI’s radar a year later when, in 2013, coworkers said he’d made inflammatory remarks about terrorist ties.

“Mateen was interviewed twice,” said the FBI’s Ron Hopper, who is leading the investigation into the Orlando attack. “Ultimately we were unable to verify the substance of his comments and the investigation was closed.”

In 2014 he came to the FBI’s attention again, this time because of contact he had with Moner Abu-Salha, the first known American suicide bomber in Syria. But once again, Mateen was cleared of any wrongdoing

He was not on a current terror watchlist, a U.S. intelligence source tells CBS News’ Len Tepper. He was entered into a terrorist screening database during the time the FBI was questioning him, but he was removed when the FBI closed the investigation, Tepper reports.

Despite those two investigations, Mateen was not on any list that prevented him from purchasing a weapon.

According to ATF Assistant Special Agent in Charge Trevor Velinor, purchase two firearms — a handgun and a “long” gun — within the last few days.

A law enforcement source tells Milton investigators are seeking court authorized search warrants for the suspect’s home, car, and communication devices including his cell phone and computer. Police have said the suspect was driving a van that was found outside the nightclub.

They are also seeking Mateen’s financial records and phone records to determine who he may have been in contact with, including anyone overseas.

Father of shooter

Seddique Mir Mateen, the father of the shooter, is a life insurance salesman who started a group in 2010 called Durand Jirga, Inc., according to Qasim Tarin, a businessman from California who was a Durand Jirga board member. The name refers to the Durand line, the long disputed border between Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Mateen’s father has posted long, rambling videos online regarding Afghan politics, the nature of which was not entirely clear: A former Afghan official said the program was pro-Taliban, while a former colleague said it was enthusiastically pro-American.

Seddique Mateen told CBS News he visited with his son the day before the shooting, and saw no sign he was preparing for an attack.

A new message posted by the father on Facebook early Monday morning also makes it clear he could have passed anti-homosexual views onto his son. In the video posted early Monday, he described his son as well-educated and respectful to his parents, and said he was “not aware what motivated him to go into a gay club and kill 50 people.”

The elder Mateen says he was saddened by his son’s actions during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

He then adds: “God will punish those involved in homosexuality,” saying it’s “not an issue that humans should deal with.”

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