Omar Mateen, the jihadi responsible for the massacre of 49 people at the gay club Pulse in Orlando on Sunday morning, once threatened to shoot everyone at a cookout because he believed his hamburger had touched pork meat.
This anecdote is one of several revealed in a Wall Street Journal profile citing classmates of Mateen’s at Indian River Community College, where he was working toward corrections officer training in the hopes of becoming a police officer. After multiple threats and seemingly routine complaints that his classmates discriminated against him for being Muslim – despite no evidence supporting this, according to classmates – he was finally removed.
One classmate noted that he did, in fact, know Mateen was Muslim, because he recalled Mateen mentioning that he did not eat pork at a classmate cookout. Another classmate, Susanne Coburn Laforest, noted that he did not just mention it in passing – he “flipped out” and told everyone at the cookout “he was going to come back and shoot us” because he thought pork meat had touched some of his food.
The Wall Street Journal notes that the aspiring police officer had his car raided, possibly for bringing a firearm to campus. He had also repeatedly made statements warning that, for example, the Virginia Tech massacre “could happen here in the academy class.” His threats, witnesses say, were intimately tied to his identity as a Muslim.
The Journal notes that a school spokesman could not confirm these stories, only that he stopped being a student at the academy in 2007.
These stories illustrating Mateen’s character as unstable, violent, and consistently asserting his victimhood as a Muslim American echo those of former coworkers and classmates going back as far as a decade. Shortly after Mateen’s shooting spree at Pulse – a club witnesses say Mateen himself frequented, despite claiming publicly to be straight – former coworker Daniel Gilroy issued statements to the media saying he quit his job with the security contractor G4S because his complaints that Mateen was a threat went ignored. Gilroy says he was ignored because Mateen was Muslim, that his bosses were afraid to be seen as discriminatory.
Meanwhile, Gilroy says, Mateen was taking of “killing people,” “killing all black people” specifically, and ranting against Jews, women, and other target groups. Gilroy says Mateen was “always angry, sweating” and would leave him dozens of messages a day venting his anger at his chosen targets.
Those who knew Mateen as an adolescent have issued anonymous statements indicating Mateen’s demeanor became angry at a young age. The gossip outlet TMZ has published a report citing “docs” – seemingly the doctors who tended to his victim – claiming that a 14-year-old Mateen beat a classmate in the head repeatedly “without any provocation” and was charged with criminal battery and given a “scared straight” sentence.
The Washington Post quotes named classmates as stating that they remember a young Mateen cheering on September 11, 2001. “He was making plane noises on the bus, acting like he was running into a building,” classamate Robert Zirkle said.
The night of his terrorist attack at Pulse, Mateen left multiple Facebook posts online proclaiming his allegiance to the Islamic State terrorist group. “The real muslims will never accept the filthy ways of the west,” he said in one statement. “I pledge my alliance to (ISIS leader) abu bakr al Baghdadi..may Allah accept me,” another Sunday post read.
Mateen also reportedly consumed a significant amount of jihadist propaganda online, including the sermons of notorious jihadi recruiter Abu Taubah and Islamic State, Al Qaeda, and Hezbollah propaganda.