Orlando shootings: Club attacker had ‘grudge in his heart’, father says

Media captionSeddique Mateen said he did not understand why his son had carried out the shooting

The father of a gunman who killed dozens of people in an Orlando gay club says he did not know that his son had a “grudge in his heart”.

Omar Mateen killed 50 people and wounded 53 more in the deadliest mass shooting in recent US history, before being shot dead by police.

Seddique Mateen said he did not understand why his son had carried out the shooting at the Pulse nightclub.

The so-called Islamic State group (IS) called Omar Mateen one of its soldiers.

In a statement posted online and addressed to people in his native Afghanistan, Seddique Mateen said his son had been “a very good boy”, who had a wife and a child.

“I don’t know what caused it,” he said. “I never figured out that he had a grudge in his heart… I am grief-stricken.”

Live updates

How attacks unfolded

Who was Omar Mateen?

Orlando shooting: Special report

He added he did not know why his son had committed such an act during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, adding that the fate of gay people was “not in the hands of humans” as it was, he said, only God who could judge.

IS had called for attacks on the West during Ramadan.

On Sunday, Seddique Mateen said: “We are apologising for the whole incident. We are in shock, like the whole country.”

He said his son had been angered after seeing two men kissing in Miami.

What happened on the night?

The attack began at about 02:00 local time (06:00 GMT) on Sunday. There was an exchange of fire with a police officer working at the club, after which the suspect took hostages.

At 05:00 a police assault team went into the club after police received text messages and phone calls from some of the hostages. Mateen was killed in an exchange of fire.

States of emergency have been declared in the city of Orlando and surrounding Orange County.

Who were the victims?

Image copyright
Reuters

Image caption

Clockwise from top left: Orlando shooting victims Edward Sotomayor, Stanley Almodovar, Luis Omar Ocasio-Ocampo, Juan Ramon Guerrero, Luis Vielma and Eric Ivan Ortiz-Rivera

So far, 21 victims have been named: 17 men and four women. They include:

  • Edward Sotomayor, 34, who worked for a company that organised gay cruises
  • Stanley Almodovar, 23, a pharmacy technician who was remembered as “kind and sassy”
  • Kimberly Morris, 37, who had only recently moved to Orlando and worked at Pulse as a bouncer
  • Luis Vielma, 22, who worked at the Harry Potter section at Universal Studios – author J K Rowling paid tribute to him online
  • Eddie Justice, 30, who sent his mother a series of text messages while inside the club – read more on him here

Who was the killer?

Image copyright
CBS News

Image caption

US media have published pictures of the suspect, Omar Mateen

Mateen, a US citizen of Afghan descent who was born in New York and lived in Florida, was not on a terrorism watch list.

However, the FBI interviewed him twice in 2013-14 after he made “inflammatory remarks” to a colleague, before closing its investigation.

Mateen had legally purchased several guns in the days before the attack.

A statement on the IS-affiliated Amaq news agency said an IS “fighter” was responsible and on Monday, the group’s al-Bayan radio called Mateen “one of the Caliphate’s soldiers in the US”.

An FBI spokesman said Mateen had called the emergency services before the attack and sworn allegiance to IS.

3.3 million

AR-15s in the US in 2012 (estimated)

  • 45 rounds per minute

  • 26 people killed by AR-15 in Sandy Hook in 2012

  • 0 days’ wait needed to obtain one in Florida

Image copyright
Omar Mateen

Image caption

Mateen’s father said his motives had nothing to do with religion

On Sunday, Mateen’s father said religion had had nothing to do with the attack.

A security company that Mateen used to work for said he had been vetted twice.

The checks in 2007 and 2013 did not reveal anything of concern, G4S said, and Mateen had carried a gun as part of his job.

Read more on Omar Mateen

Ex-wife: Mateen was ‘disturbed’

Media captionSitora Yusufiy, supported by her fiance, talks about her ex-husband, Omar Mateen

Sitora Yusufiy lived with Mateen for four months in 2009. She said her family had “rescued” her from the relationship when they became aware he was being physically abusive.

He beat her up regularly during their short-lived marriage for trivial things like not doing laundry, she said.

“When he would get in his tempers, he would express hate toward everything. He was mentally unstable and mentally ill: that’s the only explanation that I could give.”

Image copyright
EPA

Image caption

Vigils were held in US cities, including here in San Francisco, to mourn the victims of the Orlando shooting

Image copyright
AP

Image caption

A DJ who was in the club at the time of the attack was comforted by a friend

What has been the response?

US President Barack Obama described the attack as “an act of terror and an act of hate”

It was a further reminder of how easy it was to acquire a deadly weapon in the US and shoot people, he said.

Media captionPresident Obama: “We are united in grief, outrage – and resolve”

“We have to decide if that’s the kind of country we want to be,” said the president, who has campaigned for stricter gun laws. “To actively do nothing is a decision as well.”

The Democratic Party’s presumptive nominee for president, Hillary Clinton, said in a statement: “This reminds us once more that weapons of war have no place on our streets.”

And in a message to LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) people, she said: “We will keep fighting for your right to live freely, openly and without fear. Hate has absolutely no place in America.”

Meanwhile her Republican rival, Donald Trump, said Mr Obama should step down for refusing to use the words “radical Islam” when condemning the attack.

“If we do not get tough and smart real fast, we are not going to have a country any more,” he said.

Media captionNihad Awad: “Homophobia, transphobia, Islamophobia are interconnected systems”

The head of the Council on American-Islamic Relations urged politicians not to “score points” or “exploit fear”.

In a direct message to IS, Nihad Awad said: “You do not speak for us. You do not represent us. You are an aberration.”

Read more: LGBT community under siege


Worst US mass shootings in last 25 years

  • At least 50 dead, 2016 – Omar Mateen opens fire on revellers at gay club in Orlando, Florida
  • 32 dead, 2007 – Student Seung-Hui Cho massacres students at Virginia Tech university before killing himself
  • 27 dead, 2012 – Adam Lanza kills 20 six- and seven-year-old children and six adults before killing himself at Sandy Hook, Connecticut
  • 23 dead, 1991 – George Hennard drives through the wall of a cafe in Killeen, Texas, before opening fire and committing suicide
  • 14 dead, 2015 – Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik open fire at a staff gathering in San Bernardino

The death toll means that the Orlando attack surpasses the 2007 massacre at Virginia Tech, which left 32 people dead.

According to the crowd-sourced Mass Shooting Tracker, the US suffered 372 mass shootings last year, defined as a single incident that kills or injures four or more people. Some 475 people were killed and 1,870 wounded.

The latest incident came as Orlando was still reeling from the fatal shooting on Friday night of 22-year-old singer Christina Grimmie following a concert in the city.


Were you at the Orlando Pulse nightclub, or nearby when the incident happened? Email your experiences to haveyoursay@bbc.co.uk.

Please include a contact number if you are willing to speak to a BBC journalist. You can also contact us in the following ways:

Orlando shootings: Club attacker had ‘grudge in his heart’, father says

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *