Omar Mateen, the Islamic State (ISIS) loyalist responsible for more than 100 casualties in Orlando’s Pulse nightclub earlier this month, was an “expert marksman,” according to a shooting instructor who gave him a refresher course in 2011.
John Murrow told the local Orlando Sentinel that he remembered little from his brief encounter with Mateen – a course necessary for Mateen to keep his license to work as a private security guard for G4S, the firm that hired him after his repeated failed attempts at becoming a police officer. But looking at Mateen’s records from the four-hour training session, he concluded Mateen was a talented shooter.
“He basically was a perfect shot, not quite perfect, but he was an expert marksman,” Murrow said, adding, “He came in. He did his four hours of refresher. That was basically the last time I saw him.”
The Sentinel notes that, in addition to Mateen’s outstanding grades on the shooting portion of the exam – 235 or higher out of 240 in four of ten tests – he passed the written portion of the test seven times with a perfect score.
Mateen’s exemplary grades on shooting tests suggest years of training. While Mateen did undergo some corrections officer training and on multiple occasions attempted to enter police training programs, he was either rejected or ultimately expelled from all the programs he attempted to complete.
His earliest failure at becoming an officer occurred in 2007, when the Florida Department of Corrections found reason to expel Mateen from its corrections officer program. A memo regarding Mateen notes that he had fallen asleep in class at least twice and threatened to bring a gun to class:
An incident documented on 4/23 by another recruit where officer Mateen approached officer Thompson on 4/14/07 and asked “if he was to bring a gun to school would I (officer Thompson) tell anybody.”
Mateen’s inquiry about bringing a weapon to class is at best extremely disturbing.
He lasted only six months in the program.
In 2011, Mateen was rejected from a state trooper training program. He tried once again to enter a police academy in 2015 and was once again rejected. Indian River State College records indicate that “information was discovered” that led to Mateen’s rejection.
Mateen lodged a complaint with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement alleging that his latest rejection from the police academy occurred because he was Muslim. In his private work at G4S, at least one coworker confirms that he would claim his Muslim faith made him the victim of discrimination regularly. In those rants, coworker Dan Gilroy has said, he would repeatedly threaten to kill people and assert that “he didn’t like blacks, women, lesbians and Jews.”
G4S investigated Mateen’s inflammatory comments in 2013, and subsequently moved him to a different security job. They did not, however, disarm him.
While the G4S job did require Mateen to occasionally take firearms training refresher courses, his superior ability with weapons raises suspicions in light of his travel records. Mateen traveled to Saudi Arabia twice, in 2011 following his rejection from the state trooper academy and 2012, both trips reportedly to perform the umrah, an optional pilgrimage to Mecca, which is of lesser holiness than the hajj. He left Saudi Arabia on one of those trips for a stop at the United Arab Emirates, but there are no other records of him traveling to neighboring countries with high concentrations of terrorist activity. As Mateen had vocalized support for al-Qaeda, the Islamic State, and even the Sunni terrorist group Hezbollah, law enforcement officials are now investigating whether he had ties to any terrorist groups in the region and received training from there.
Mateen killed 49 people and injured 53 on Sunday, June 12, in a siege of the Pulse gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida. Police killed Mateen to end the siege.