ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — The ex-wife of the shooter at a gay Florida nightclub says the man enjoyed nightlife, but she’s not sure if he had any homosexual tendencies.
Sitora Yusufiy spoke to CNN on Tuesday from Denver.
She says: “When we had gotten married, he confessed to me about his past … that he very much enjoyed going to clubs and the nightlife, and there was a lot of pictures of him. … I feel like it’s a side of him or a part of him that he lived, but probably didn’t want everybody to know about.”
The comments follow reports from customers at the gay nightclub that shooter Oman Mateen was seen there regularly. One told The Associated Press that Mateen tried to pick up men there.
Asked whether she thinks her ex-husband was gay, Yusufiy said: “I don’t know. He never personally or physically made any indications while we were together of that. But he did feel very strongly about homosexuality.”
She says it’s possible he hid feelings about being gay.
The couple were married in 2009 and divorced two years later. Yusiufiy has said he was abusive.
The FBI is now investigating reports that Mateen had been a regular at the gay nightclub he attacked and had used gay dating apps, a U.S. official briefed on the case said Tuesday.
A number of possible explanations and motives for the bloodbath that left 49 victims dead have emerged, with Mateen professing allegiance to the Islamic State, his ex-wife saying he was mentally ill, and his father suggesting he was driven by hatred of gays.
The picture grew more complex as patrons of the Pulse came forward to say that they had seen the 29-year-old American-born Muslim there a number of times or that he had been using gay dating apps.
Jim Van Horn, 71, said Mateen was a regular at the club. “He was trying to pick up people. Men,” Van Horn told The Associated Press. While acknowledging he didn’t know Mateen well, Van Horn said: “I think it’s possible that he was trying to deal with his inner demons, of trying to get rid of his anger of homosexuality.”
The official who said the FBI is looking into those reports was not authorized to discuss the investigation publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.
Wielding an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle and a handgun, Mateen opened fire at the club early Sunday in a three-hour shooting rampage and hostage siege that ended with a SWAT team killing him. It was the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history. During the attack, he called 911 to profess allegiance to the Islamic State group.
President Barack Obama will visit Orlando on Thursday to pay his respects to the victims and stand in solidarity with the community, the White House said.
The Orlando Sentinel and other news organizations quoted other regulars from Pulse as saying they, too, had seen Mateen at the club repeatedly.