The Islamic State loyalist responsible for the murder of 49 patrons of the gay night club Pulse on June 12, Omar Mateen, does not appear to have frequented gay clubs or dated men using gay phone apps, according to the FBI.
FBI officials speaking to the Los Angeles Times on the condition of anonymity say they have found no evidence that Mateen has ever had an account on sites like Grindr, Jack’d, or Adam4Adam, apps and sites commonly used by gay men to meet other men. They have also not found any evidence that Mateen was a “regular” at Pulse or visited any other gay clubs. They have neither confirmed nor denied, however, that they may have evidence that Mateen visited the club before, whether as a patron or to scope it out for a future attack.
“So far, they have found no photographs, no text messages, no smartphone apps, no gay pornography and no cell-tower location data to suggest that Mateen — who was twice married to women and had a young son — conducted a secret gay life, the officials said,” the Times reported, citing FBI agents. The FBI has confiscated the phones and computers of numerous men who have come forward claiming to have interacted with Mateen on gay dating apps, looking for evidence to prove these claims.
The FBI has also dismissed the claim of a man identified publicly as “Miguel,” who claimed to have engaged in sexual relations with Mateen in an interview with Univisión, as “not credible.” “Miguel” told Univisión that Mateen committed his act of terror out of “revenge against Puerto Ricans” after engaging in a ménage à trois with two Puerto Rican men, one who allegedly was HIV positive. TMZ has reported that the FBI has picked up surveillance video footage from a hotel “Miguel” claims to have visited with Mateen; the LA Times report indicated that what they found on that footage was enough to deem “Miguel”‘s account not credible.
The LA Times describes the FBI as dismissing the other men who claim to have encountered Mateen on dating sites as either “not credible” or “confus[ing] Mateen with someone else,” that allowance of error not present regarding the man interviewed by Univisión.
The Orlando Sentinel notes that the FBI has not stopped processing any incoming information that may indicate Mateen carried on a secret gay life, however, though sources within the FBI said the evidence they currently have has led nowhere.
The local newspaper also notes that at least four men have come forward claiming to know Mateen from Pulse.
“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,” Ty Smith, a Pulse patron, told the Sentinel shortly after the attack. “We didn’t really talk to him a lot, but I remember him saying things about his dad at times,” he added. Another patron, Jim Van Horn, told the Associated Press shortly after the attack that he had seen Mateen there multiple times and that he struck him and his friends as a “strange person.”
Mateen opened fire on Pulse on June 12 and shortly thereafter called 911 to pledge allegiance to the Islamic State and its “caliph,” Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. Islamic State fans on the internet have adamantly rejected claims that Mateen was gay, dismissing them as “infidel” lies.
During a visit to Orlando this week, Attorney General Loretta Lynch said that it was possible authorities may never know Mateen’s motives for attacking Pulse, despite his repeated assertions that he had committed the attack in the name of the Islamic State.