After a slew of reports that Omar Mateen was himself gay, the FBI “told members of the LGBT community it will pursue accounts that the Orlando nightclub shooter was partially motivated by internal conflict over his own sexuality,” according to the UK Guardian.
“FBI officials on the call ‘indicated they would follow up’ on reports that shooter Omar Mateen had on a number of occasions visited the LGBT nightclub Pulse where he killed 49 and wounded 52 on Sunday. That focus is thus far unprecedented in nearly 15 years of post-9/11 counterterrorism, which has yet to confront a known case of a suspected closeted LGBT individual ostensibly committing a mass murder in the name of a homophobic terrorist organization,” the Guardian continues.
There has been some pushback against the reports that Mateen had “gay tendencies,” as his ex-wife put it.
For example, USA Today reports that the Hector Camacho, CEO of the company that owns gay dating app Jack’d, said on Tuesday that he has not been contacted by law enforcement to follow up on reports that Mateen was a user of the app.
Camacho also said that Jack’d “hasn’t been able to substantiate that Mateen had been a member,” although USA Today notes that anonymous membership is possible under the basic version of the app.
A regular patron of the Pulse nightclub that Mateen attacked, Kevin West, has claimed that Mateen sent him a number of messages through Jack’d. West also stated that he has turned his cell phone and Jack’d login credentials in to the FBI, so they could substantiate his claim.
The USA Today report also notes that someone sent a phony screen shot of what purported to be Mateen’s account to a TV news station that was trying to set up a joint interview with West and a Jack’d spokesperson.
Police have been following up on claims that Mateen frequented a number of gay bars before he allegedly began patronizing Pulse. Earlier reports on these claims mentioned that no one at these other bars has yet been able to positively identify Mateen as a customer. It has also been reported that the DJ at the only gay bar in Ft. Pierce, where Mateen lived, told the police he didn’t recall any visits from the killer.
Nothing uncovered so far has conclusively disproved (or proved) the theory that Mateen was gay. If these claims were made as a hoax, it’s a pretty big hoax, and the hoaxers could be risking a lot of trouble with state and federal law enforcement agencies.
Claims have come from multiple sources, to a variety of media outlets and law-enforcement agencies. The UK Telegraph added a few more on Tuesday afternoon, including employees of the Parliament gay hotel and resort in Orlando. “I recognize his face. I’m not on gay dating apps or anything anymore, but he certainly looks familiar. So when I heard he frequented gay bars around here, it all made sense,” one employee said.
Another account cited by the Telegraph came from a colleague at the police academy, which Mateen attended in 2006. The classmate said they went to a few gay bars together, and Mateen asked him out, but added, “I was not ‘out’ at the time, so I declined his offer.”