Orlando shooter Omar Mateen was gay, former classmate says

Published: Monday, June 13, 2016 @ 10:00 PM
Updated: Monday, June 13, 2016 @ 11:45 PM

A former classmate of Omar Mateen’s 2006 police academy class said he believed Mateen was gay, saying Mateen once asked him out.

Officials say Mateen shot and killed 49 people and injured 53 others at an Orlando nightclub early Sunday morning.

» Video, photos, more: See full coverage of the Orlando shooting

The classmate said that he, Mateen and other classmates would hang out, sometimes going to gay nightclubs, after classes at the Indian River Community College police academy. He said Mateen asked him out romantically.

“We went to a few gay bars with him, and I was not out at the time, so I declined his offer,” the former classmate said. He asked that his name not be used.

He believed Mateen was gay, but not open about it. Mateen was awkward, and for a while the classmate and the rest in the group of friends felt sorry for him.

» PHOTOS: Orlando shooting

“He just wanted to fit in and no one liked him,” he said. “He was always socially awkward.”

In Orlando, the Los Angeles Times reported that Mateen attended the Pulse nightclub possibly as many as a dozen times before the rampage. Kevin West said he had messaged Mateen back and forth over a year’s time on the gay dating app Jack’d but never met him until he saw Mateen crossing the street about 1 a.m. Sunday.

“He walked directly past me. I said, ‘Hey,’ and he turned and said, ‘Hey,’” and nodded his head, West said. “I could tell by the eyes.”

At least four regular customers of Pulse, the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender nightclub where the massacre took place, told the Orlando Sentinel on Monday that they believed they had seen Mateen there before.

“Sometimes he would go over in the corner and sit and drink by himself, and other times he would get so drunk he was loud and belligerent,” said Ty Smith, who also uses the name Aries.

He saw Mateen at the club at least a dozen times, he told the Sentinel. “We didn’t really talk to him a lot, but I remember him saying things about his dad at times,” Smith said. “He told us he had a wife and child.”

The Canadian Press reported Monday that Mateen had been seen there over three years.

Chris Callen recalled the eventual killer being escorted drunk from the Pulse bar on multiple occasions, including one incident where he pointed a knife at a friend. Said Callen, who performs under the name Kristina McLaughlin, “He’s been going to this bar for at least three years.”

In a text with Mateen's ex-wife WFTV reporter Christopher Heath asked if she knew he used gay dating websites, to which she replied, ”It seems likely."

Mateen’s father emphatically told The Post Monday that his son was not gay.

“If he was gay, why would he do something like this?” Seddique Mateen asked.

The former classmate said the group, including Mateen, went to four gay clubs in the Treasure Coast and West Palm Beach in 2006: Kashmir Night Club in West Palm Beach, Byrd Cage in Port St. Lucie, Cold Keg in Melbourne and Rebar in Port St. Lucie.

All but Cold Keg have since closed, and the owner there said he hadn’t seen Mateen.

Neither had one of the former owners of Kashmir, who said none of his former employees have reached out to him, either.

Rebar closed in February and became Tattle Tails. The owner of Tattle Tails, Johnscott Willett, said Monday that he did not recognize Mateen. Willett said he worked for nine years at Rebar and didn’t recognize him from his time there, either.

He said St. Lucie County Sheriff’s deputies visited the club on Sunday and asked if he recognized Mateen.

After hearing that Mateen had shot up the nightclub, he said he felt angry, then betrayed.

He said Mateen graduated from the academy.

Mateen never became an officer in Florida.

WFTV contributed to this report.

Rare, 400-pound crocodile gets surgery at Florida zoo

Published: Saturday, April 22, 2017 @ 6:43 PM

A crocodile. (Photo: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)
Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

A 13-year-old Orinoco crocodile was taken into surgery at the Zoo Hospital in Miami on Friday to treat an infected wound.

A team of zoo staff veterinarians operated on the croc’s left wrist when “something, probably another cranky crocodile, took a bite out of it,” the Miami Herald reports.

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Orinoco crocodiles are a rare, endangered species that reside in fresh-water areas of the Orinoco River in Colombia and Venezuela, the zoo told the Herald. They can grow up to 15 feet long.

The zoo’s 10-foot reptile resides at the “Amazon and Beyond” exhibit, according to the Herald. Veterinarians did routine screenings before operating on the crocodile, which included X-rays and blood tests.

The nearly 400-pound crocodile is currently recovering at the hospital and will remain there for a few days until the wound heals. 

Hernandez family thankful for condolences, asks for privacy at funeral

Published: Saturday, April 22, 2017 @ 5:36 PM

Aaron Hernandez's fiancee Shayanna Jenkins. (Photo: WFXT)

The body of former football star and convicted murderer Aaron Hernandez will be moved to a funeral home in Connecticut this weekend, just days after he apparently took his own life in jail. 

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His family sent a statement Saturday, thanking the public for offering condolences and complying with the family’s request for privacy:

"The family of Aaron Hernandez wishes to thank all of you for the thoughtful expressions of condolences. We wish to say goodbye to Aaron in a private ceremony and thank everyone in advance for affording us a measure of privacy during this difficult time."

The family wishes to remain private during the funeral, to which the media will not be allowed.

Hernandez’s body was taken from Massachusetts to the O’Brien Funeral Home in Bristol, Connecticut.

Mother hopes new sketches will help find son 38 years after kidnapping

Published: Saturday, April 22, 2017 @ 6:01 PM

An age progression sketch of

A mother whose son was kidnapped just days after he was born believes she will one day find him.

"I wonder about him, pray about him. I pray he's OK," Donna Green said.

Green's son, Raymond, was kidnapped nearly 40 years ago. She believes a woman who befriended her at the hospital took him.

"I was standing at the nursery, looking at the window, looking at my son, when this young lady came up to me and asked which one was my son. I pointed at him," Green said.

The woman introduced herself as Lisa Morris on Nov. 1, 1978, at Grady Memorial Hospital.

Green was 16 years old at the time and had just given birth.

"She said how beautiful he was. I asked he why she was there. She said her sister just had a baby," Green said.

Green checked out of the hospital five days later and Morris showed up at her southwest Atlanta apartment uninvited.

"She said she wanted to see how I was doing and how the baby was doing. That's when my radar went up a bit," she said.

Green left her son with her brother to go take a shower and when she returned, her brother was asleep and the baby was gone.

Police have now released an age-progressed sketch of the child and the woman who they say kidnapped him.

"I want him to know that I never stopped looking for him, and I never will. I believe in my heart he will come home," Green said.

The mother hopes the new sketches will help police continue their search.

If you know anything about the case, call Crime Stoppers at 404-577-8477.

Campbell's soup recalled due to labeling

Published: Saturday, April 22, 2017 @ 4:40 PM

Cambell's Soup is recalling some of its soup because it is mislabeled. (Photo: U.S. Department of Agriculture)
U.S. Department of Agriculture

Campbell Soup Co. is recalling more than 4,000 pounds of chicken soup due to mislabeling.

“Campbell’s Homestyle Healthy Request Chicken with Whole Grain Pasta” 18.6 oz. cans with a best buy date of Feb. 13, 2019, have been recalled. The cans have EST. 4R written on the bottom of them.

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The cans were filled with the wrong soup; Campbell’s Homestyle Healthy Request Italian-Style Wedding Spinach & Meatballs in Chicken Broth, which contains milk. The soup was put in the chicken with whole grain pasta labeled cans, which does not have milk on the product label.

There are no reports of illnesses. Consumers who purchased these products should throw them away or return them to the place of purchase.