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Ex-wife of suspected Orlando shooter: ‘He beat me’

The Washington Post The Washington Post 12/06/2016 Adam Goldman, Julie Tate

The ex-wife of the 29-year-old man suspected of killing 50 people in a Orlando nightclub early Sunday said that he was violent and mentally unstable and beat her repeatedly while they were married.

The ex-wife said she met Omar Mateen online about eight years ago and decided to move to Florida and marry him.

At first, the marriage was normal, she said, but then he became abusive.

“He was not a stable person,” said the ex-wife, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because she feared for her safety in the wake of the mass shooting. “He beat me. He would just come home and start beating me up because the laundry wasn’t finished or something like that.”

While the FBI has not identified Mateen publicly, U.S. law enforcement officials said his identification was found on the body of the killer, who was armed with a handgun and an assault rifle.

Authorities think he used those weapons to kill 50 people and injure dozens more in the attack on the gay nightclub that began just after 2 a.m. Sunday morning. Mateen was killed in a shootout with police three hours later after a SWAT team assaulted a section of the club where Mateen was holed up with hostages.

Mateen’s ex-wife said his family was from Afghanistan, but her ex-husband was born in New York. His family later moved to Florida. In 2007, Mateen graduated with an associate degree of science from Indian River State College.

In a series of Myspace photos, Mateen is seen taking selfies and wearing New York Police Department shirts in a couple of the shots. His ex-wife identified him as the man in the Myspace photos.

Mateen’s ex-wife said she was having a difficult time when she first met him and decided to move to Florida to be with him. The two married in March 2009 and moved into a two-bedroom condominium in Fort Pierce, Fla., that Mateen’s family owned.

“He seemed like a normal human being,” she said, adding that he wasn’t very religious and often worked out at the gym. She said in the few months they were married he gave no signs of having fallen under the sway of radical Islam. She said he owned a small-caliber handgun.

“He was a very private person,” she said.

According to public records, he had a permit to carry a concealed weapon and was a licensed security guard. He had worked for G4S, a security company. His ex-wife said that at one point Mateen worked as a guard at a nearby facility for juvenile delinquents.

The ex-wife said her parents intervened when they learned Mateen had assaulted her. Her father confirmed the account and said that the marriage lasted only a few months.

Her parents flew to Fort Pierce and pulled her out of the house, leaving all her belongings behind. The ex-wife she said never had contact with Mateen again despite attempts by him to reach her.

“They literally saved my life,” she said of her parents.

Law enforcement officials and relatives identified the gunman of the June 12, 2016 deadly shooting at an Orlando gay nightclub as Omar Mateen, a 29-year-old from Fort Pierce, Fla. © Myspace Law enforcement officials and relatives identified the gunman of the June 12, 2016 deadly shooting at an Orlando gay nightclub as Omar Mateen, a 29-year-old from Fort Pierce, Fla. According to Florida court records, the two formally divorced in 2011.

After learning about what happened in Orlando, she said: “I am still processing. I am definitely lucky.”

After the couple split, a friend of Mateen’s said the young man became steadily more religious. The friend, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said Mateen several years ago went on the pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia known as the umrah.

“He was quite religious,” the friend said.

He said Mateen had hoped to become a law enforcement officer but that plan never panned out.

The last time he spoke with Mateen was about three weeks ago. There was no indication when they talked that Mateen intended to carry out the worst mass shooting in U.S. history. The friend said that if Mateen had sympathies for the Islamic State or other terrorist groups, he kept that to himself.

“He never spoke about that stuff,” the friend said.

Dartevious Parker, a neighbor who lived near Mateen, said Mateen had a 3-year-old son. The neighbor had also seen a woman living with Mateen and the boy. Parker said he never spoke to her, and she did not wear any religious garb.

“This is a shocker,” he said. “I was surprised someone from here would do something like that.”

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