‘This was a sick person’
Orlando — The ex-wife of Orlando shooter Omar Mateen on Monday said she was shocked by her former husband’s attack, but she recognized something deeply wrong with him years ago.
“He would be perfectly normal and happy, joking, laughing one minute — the next minute his temper… his body would just (go) totally the opposite,” Sitora Yusufiy, 27, told ABC News. “Anger, emotionally violent and that later evolved into abuse, to beating.
“after being abused and after trying to do that and see the good in him, I can honestly say this is a sick person. This was a sick person that was really confused and went crazy,” she said.
The two had met on the social networking site Myspace in 2008 and dated for a short period before getting married. At first, life as newlyweds in Florida was normal, she said.
“He was a normal guy, joking, laughing, you know, like having fun,” she said.
Mateen was religious but not radical. Born in New York, Mateen came from an afghan family but was “Americanized,” Yusufiy said. Yusufiy, who now lives in Colorado, is Uzbekistani but had lived in the United States for nearly a decade before the marriage
Yusufiy said Mateen desperately wanted to be a policeman and hung out with a lot of cops, often going to the shooting range with them.
But just a few weeks into the marriage, Yusufiy said, Mateen started showing another side, one of anger and control. She said Mateen made her get a job and then took the money she made.
““He beat me. He would just come home and start beating me up because the laundry wasn’t finished or something like that. It was just his personal form on control. He wanted to control me and do whatever he (could) to keep me hostage,” she said.
When he was angry, he would sometimes rant about homosexuals, Yusufiy said.
“In those moments of emotional instability, he would express his anger towards (a) certain culture, homosexuality, because in Islamic culture, it is not really tolerated, homosexuality. and I know at the time he was trying to get his life straight and follow his faith,” she said.
The abuse only came to an end when Yusufiy’s family had a dramatic falling out with Mateen’s family in 2009 and she said she was “rescued” by her parents. records show the two were officially divorced in 2011.
Yusufiy said she had virtually no contact with Mateen since she left and cannot understand what led him to open fire on a gay nightclub in Orlando overnight, leaving 50 people dead and more than 50 others wounded. Yusufiy said that when she knew him, he didn’t have any contact with terrorist organizations.
A police officer working at the club exchanged fire with Mateen outside of the club at 2:02 am. Mateen then entered the club armed with an assault rifle, handgun and “some kind of device on him,” making it a hostage situation, officials said.
at approximately 5 am, the SWAT team made the decision to rescue the hostages, officials said. The shooter was killed in a gunfight with those officers.
There were about 320 people inside the club at the time of the shootings, officials said. Law enforcement officials said after Mateen’s assault began, he called 911 and pledged his allegiance to the Syria-based terror group ISIS.
When she walked out in 2009, Yusufiy assumed the “horrible mistake” she had made was long behind her. Mateen had tried to contact her through Facebook a year ago, she said, but she blocked him. Then she turned on the news on Sunday.
“I thought I had closed the chapter on this horrible mistake that I
had gotten myself into and forgot all about it and we’re free from it. But this is the most shocking, heartbreaking experience,” she said.
Yusufiy told ABC News she wanted to speak to offer her sympathies to the grieving families, to provide as much information as she can and to say that it’s “heartbreaking for Muslims, for any people, any religion, that this happens to where one person is not stable and does something totally out of their mind and it affects entire millions of (the) population.”
Meanwhile, ISIS supporters have cheered the massacre online and an ISIS propaganda group claimed, citing a “source,” that the
shooter was an ISIS “fighter.” But there’s no evidence ISIS directed or had prior knowledge of the attack, terrorism observers told ABC news.
ISIS, which is based in Syria, has targeted gay men for beatings and murder in the Middle East and has filmed its members throwing some men suspected of being gay from the roofs of buildings.
During Mateen’s 911, he also made reference to the 2013 Boston Marathon bombers, Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, officials said.
Mateen was “on the radar” of US security officials for some time but was not the target of a specific investigation, law enforcement officials told ABC News.
FBI Special Agent in Charge Ronald Hopper said the FBI had taken an interest in Mateen twice: first in 2013 after he made “inflammatory” comments to co-workers and then again the next year after he was linked to another US radical who became a suicide bomber in Syria.
Mateen was interviewed by investigators three times in relation to the probes but, in both cases, the FBI determined Mateen was not a threat and closed the investigations, Hopper said.
He was not under investigation or surveillance at the time of the shooting, Hopper said.
Mateen, whose parents are from afghanistan, was born in new
York but lived in an apartment in Fort Pierce, Florida, more than 100 miles from Orlando, officials said. Officials said he purchased two weapons, a handgun and “long gun,” a few days before the shooting. law enforcement sources said the weapons used by the attacker were a Glock 17 handgun and an Ar-style semi-automatic rifle.
Officials said Mateen had two firearms licenses — a security officer license and a statewide firearms license — both set to expire in September 2017. Mateen worked for the security firm G4S since 2007, the company said, adding that it is cooperating fully with law enforcement.
Orlando shooter Omar Mateen (right) and his exwife Sitora Yusufiy.