(ORLANDO, Fla.) — New details of the terror attack at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, on Sunday are emerging as authorities continue their investigation into the life of Omar Mateen, the perpetrator of the attack.
Mateen was said to be a regular at Pulse and other gay clubs in Florida, according to witnesses. Estella Peterkin, head of security at Pulse, told ABC News she had to kick him out for bad behavior on multiple occasions.
The shooting unfolded over the course of three hours early Sunday morning when Omar Mateen, a lone-wolf gunman, approached the Pulse nightclub armed with a .223 caliber AR-type rifle and a Glock handgun. After engaging in gunfire with an officer stationed outside the club, he entered and sprayed the venue with bullets. Fifty people are dead, including the gunman, and 53 others were injured in the attack.
Mateen, of St. Lucie County, Florida, was an American citizen with Afghan parents. Mateen’s ex-wife told ABC News that he was a “sick person” and was abusive to her in their marriage.
Many Florida Muslims have responded to the Pulse shooting with condemnation.
The FBI told reporters Monday that Mateen spoke with police three different times from the club during the attack, which started at about 2:30 a.m. on Sunday. He called and hung up, called again and spoke with a dispatcher. The dispatcher then returned his call, according to the FBI.
Mateen was “cool and calm” during their conversations, according to police, and didn’t make any demands. Survivors of the attack, however, said they heard Mateen say he wanted America to “stop bombing ISIS in Syria.”
In his phone exchange with police, Mateen pledged allegiance to the terror group ISIS and referenced the 2013 Boston Marathon bombers, Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, officials said. He also referenced U.S. suicide bomber Moner Abusalha.
The FBI said in a statement Monday that Mateen had been interviewed by authorities in 2014 because of alleged ties to Abusalha, the son of a Palestinian father and American mother, who died on May 24, 2014, at the age of 22. Abusalha drove a truck packed with explosives into a government outpost in Syria, detonating the charge.
Vigils were held last night to honor victims of the Pulse shooting. Orlando’s tight-knit LGBT community continues to grieve the tragedy.
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