Florida

Orlando killer passed psych exam and weapons test, state records show

Omar Mateen passed a psychological exam nine years ago that enabled him to work as an armed security guard and he performed well at firearms training, sometimes at the very St. Lucie gun range where he purchased the weapons used in the Orlando night-club massacre.

Those were the rather mundane revelations in state records authorities released on Wednesday documenting Mateen’s licenses to carry firearms and work as a security guard in Florida.

The only blemish, the records show, is that Mateen’s firearms license was briefly suspended when he failed to submit paperwork to the state.

The documents shed some new details into the employment history of Mateen, 29, who worked for G4S Security Solutions, which was previously known as Wackenhut.

His history with the company has come under scrutiny since Mateen stormed the Pulse gay nightclub in downtown Orlando on Sunday, killing 49 people and wounding 53 in what was the deadliest shooting in U.S. history.

The FBI said that agents investigated Mateen in May 2013 after he made “inflammatory” comments while working security at the Port St. Lucie courthouse. Co-workers said he claimed family ties to the Al-Queda terror network.

A 10-month investigation yielded no evidence of criminal wrongdoing, and Mateen claimed he only made the statements because co-workers were teasing him about his Muslim faith.

The records from the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services do not reflect that the state ever knew he was investigated by the FBI. In his applications, he answered “no” to the question if he had ever been convicted of a crime, which he had not.

Mateen applied to become a security guard in 2007, after jobs working retail at gyms and nutrition stores and a short sting “taking care of inmates” at the state’s Martin Correctional Institute. He was approved after taking a 16-hour training course in Palm Beach Gardens in August 2007.

For his firearms licenses, Mateen –then 20 years old – was first evaluated psychologically in September 2007 on behalf of G4S. The psychologist who cleared him: Dr. Carol Nudelman of South Miami.

Nudelman has been in the news before for evaluating a prospective G4S security guard who later turned to violence. In 1998, she passed Paul D. Ahern, who went on a shooting spree in Miami, wounding a cop and killing two people.

The record show that over the years, Mateen received high marks on yearly shooting and written tests, eight of them in all.

Three of those tests took place at the St. Lucie Shooting Center, where federal authorities say Mateen bought the assault rifle and pistol he used in the massacre. His last visit was on Aug. 16, 2015, where he shot a .38 caliber pistol.

The records were released as a host of media outlets, including the Miami Herald, have repeatedly asked the state to release Mateen’s 911 calls and other records be released under Florida’s Sunshine Law.

Earlier on Wednesday, Orlando announced it opened a center to assist relatives of those killed at the Pulse nightclub shooting, the city is also preparing to deal with a notorious hate-mongering church that may arrive to picket.

Authorities announced Wednesday that the stadium commonly known as the Citrus Bowl will host the Orlando Family Assistance Center, where family members can get help arranging funerals, securing room and board and getting grief counseling.

All the autopsies of the victims have already been completed and bodies are being released to funeral homes.

“Our hearts goes out to you,” Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer said at a news conference on Wednesday. “We are here to support you in any way we can.”

Dyer also announced that One Orlando, a city-sponsored fund aimed at helping family and survivors, had reached $2.5 million in donations.

The announcements comes three days after Mateen stormed the Pulse gay nightclub in Downtown Orlando, killing 49 people and wounding 53 in what was the deadliest shooting in U.S. history. He was killed by police after a three-hour standoff early Sunday. The national tragedy has reignited political debate over gun control and government response to terrorism.

Mateen, 29, was likely inspired by Islamic extremism, according to the FBI and President Obama, although there is no signs he acted on orders from anyone abroad. Federal authorities and now a grand jury are weighing whether to charge Mateen’s wife, who acknowledged he had discussed targeting the club and Disney World.

The killer’s motives may have been more complicated — several clubgoers have said that he himself was gay and frequented the club for months before the shooting.

The targeting of the gay nightclub has become another political flashpoint, and may draw a notorious Kansas hate group to Orlando.

That group: the Westboro Baptist Church, which has drawn infamy for picketing funerals after national tragedies and displaying anti-gay messages. The group tweeted “Orlando Bound” after the shooting.

Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs said police officers are on alert if the group shows up.

“It is a call for our entire community to rally behind what we believe — and that’s love and compassion,” Jacobs said.

Also on Wednesday, news emerged that Mateen may have called a local TV news station during the shooting.

Acccording to News 13’s website, a TV producer named Matthw Gentili took a call from a man during the shooting.

“He did it for ISIS, and he started speaking Arabic,” Gentili told his station. “At the time, I didn't know what he was saying. He was speaking so fast. But it was ... he was speaking fluently. Whatever language he was speaking, he knew it. And he was speaking it very quickly. And that is when I said to him, 'Sir. Please. Speak in English, please.'”

Gentili said the person refused to say where he was. “’It was silent for a while. I asked him: 'Is there anything else you want to say?'” Gentili said. “He said no and hung up the phone.”

The FBI interviewed Gentili. The TV station said it traced the phone number to Mateen.

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