A Florida man, who has chosen to stay anonymous, has come forward with some new shocking details about Omar Mateen — the gunman who killed 49 people in LGBT nightclub Pulse while injuring dozens more.
Going by the name Miguel, the man disclosed his alleged relationship with Mateen during an exclusive interview with Univision.
“I’ve cried like you have no idea,” he told anchor Maria Elena Salinas. “But the thing that makes me want to tell the truth is that he didn’t do it for terrorism. In my opinion he did it for revenge.”
Miguel appeared on TV wearing heavy makeup in an attempt to keep his identity hidden and said he met Mateen in 2015 through gay dating app Grindr and began a relationship soon after. He explained his two-month relationship with the Mateen as “friends with benefits.”
“He adored Latinos, gay Latinos, with brown skin — but he felt rejected. He felt used by them — there were moments in the Pulse nightclub that made him feel really bad,” Miguel continued. “Guys used him. That really affected him. I believe this crazy, horrible thing he did — that was revenge.”
Miguel didn’t know Mateen’s real name, but knew that he was 35 years old and married with a son. He believed Mateen's second wife knew about his sexual orientation and the marriage was a façade.
Following the shooting, Miguel met with FBI agents in person at least three times. The FBI also confirmed his claims to Univision.
Miguel described Mateen as “a very sweet guy" who never “showed a violent side,” which is why he was shocked beyond belief when he heard about the rampage.
“My reaction was that can’t be the man I know. It’s impossible that the man I know could do that,” he recalled.
The most important part of the interview, however, came when Miguel talked about Mateen’s sexual encounter with an HIV-positive man.
“[Mateen] was terrified that he was infected,” he said, noting the other man was Puerto Rican. “I asked him, ‘Did you do a test?’ Yes. He went to the pharmacy and did the test… it came out negative but it doesn't come out right away. It takes four, five months. When I asked him what he was going to do now, his answer was ‘I'm going to make them pay for what they did to me.’”
Immediately after the shooting, Mateen's alleged, self-proclaimed relations with radical Islamists, his Afghan heritage and his Muslim religion prompted wild speculation that ISIS struck in the U.S. However, once people from his past began speaking up, their statements painted a much different picture of Mateen and his motivations.
Authorities claim Mateen pledged solidarity with the Islamic State group in his 911 call from the club before he opened fire, but Miguel’s account adds a shocking twist to the whole story. It not only contradicts the shooter’s connections to Islamist extremists, but also portrays him as a confused gay man who felt used by the men he met at Pulse and decided to kill them in some insane act of vengeance.
It is still unclear if it was Islamic fanaticism, homophobia, revenge or some warped combination of the three that inspired the rampage, but one thing is certain: Demonizing the entire Muslim population for such an act of violence is not justifiable under any circumstances.