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Orlando Shooter Researched Anti-Psychotic Drugs Before Attack

  • A sign of support is pictured as part of a makeshift memorial for the Pulse nightclub mass shooting victims last week in Orlando, Florida, U.S., June 21, 2016.

    A sign of support is pictured as part of a makeshift memorial for the Pulse nightclub mass shooting victims last week in Orlando, Florida, U.S., June 21, 2016. | Photo: Reuters

Published 23 June 2016
Opinion

An acquaintance of Omar Mateen said he was agitated and rude during the final weeks before the attack.

On the morning before the massacre at Orlando’s Pulse nightclub, shooter Omar Mateen drastically altered his appearance, shaving his head and face, according to an acquaintance who saw him that day, who added that Mateen had been intensively researching anti-psychosis medication a few weeks before the attack.

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The acquaintance, a resident at the PGA Village in Port St. Lucie, Florida, where Mateen worked as a gate security guard, told Reuters he noticed signs of a deteriorating disposition a few weeks before the massacre.

He had passed the gate for three years, meeting Mateen several times a week and exchanging friendly small talk. About three weeks before the attack, he noticed Mateen seemed agitated and asked him if he was all right.

Mateen said he was worn out from staying up all night researching psychiatric medication, although he did not say he was taking any specific drugs. “He’d been real worried about whether or not he’d slipped into psychosis," the acquaintance said. “He wasn’t as friendly. He was obsessed with researching medication online.”

The acquaintance requested anonymity, saying authorities had asked him to keep quiet. Meanwhile, sources close to the investigation told Reuters that the Federal Bureau Investigation was now moving toward a personal motive for the attack rather than a political and “Islamist terrorism” related one.

"It looks increasingly like this may have been the act of a seriously troubled individual whose personal problems dwarfed any last-minute inspiration from radical groups," said a senior U.S. official familiar with the investigation, speaking on condition of anonymity.

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The shift comes amid mounting reports and testimonies from those who knew him suggesting he could have been closeted, after it was revealed that Mateen frequented gay clubs and used gay dating apps, while at the same time struggling with raging violence and anger management issues.

In the early morning, about 18 hours before the June 12 attack, the acquaintance said he drove up to the gate but Mateen was not there to open it as usual.

Within a couple of minutes he appeared, silent and with a completely transformed look — a shaved head and face, without his usual short whiskers and glasses. When asked if he was okay, the usually polite Mateen responded: “What’s it to you, anyway?"

The recent revelations come less than two weeks after Mateen’s former wife told a Brazilian network that the FBI told her not to tell U.S. media that he was gay. She also revealed in several interviews since the attack that she was domestically abused by Mateen.

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To add to these allegations, a man who claimed to have had sexual relations with Mateen spoke to Univision in an exclusive interview, revealing that the Orlando shooter was in fact closeted and claiming he carried out the attack out of anger toward Puerto Rican men who had hurt him emotionally.

Mateen’s alleged former lover also said the gunman was upset with a Puerto Rican man who had not told him he was HIV-positive until after they had had sex.

The Orlando shooting has reignited debates in the United States over gun control and hate crimes against the LGBTQ community while also highlighting how U.S. authorities hold double-standards when investigating mass shootings depending on the ethnicity of the attacker.

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