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.

What if a government shutdown happened? Five things to know

Published: Thursday, January 18, 2018 @ 5:30 AM


            The Air Force Life Cycle Management Center at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base BARRIE BARBER/STAFF
The Air Force Life Cycle Management Center at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base BARRIE BARBER/STAFF

The federal government faces a partial federal shutdown threat Friday without a $1.1 trillion appropriations spending budget or a temporary stopgap spending measure in place.

Here’s what could happen in the Miami Valley if a shutdown occurs:

FURLOUGHS: A Wright-Patterson Air Force Base spokesman said this week the base had not received guidance on what actions to take. But the last time a federal government shutdown occurred in 2013, thousands of Wright-Patterson civilian employees were furloughed temporarily. Among those exempted were police, fire, medical and airfield operations. Military service members remained on the job.

MUSEUM: The region’s biggest tourist attraction, the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force, would close until a funding deal is reached, according to a spokesman.

MAIL SERVICE: The U.S. Postal Service, which is considered self-funded, would continue operations, including home delivery and post offices would stay open, a spokesman said.

DAYTON VA: The Department of Veterans Affairs medical facilities would remain open. The VA operates on a two-year budget cycle, exempting the department from the latest funding skirmish in Washington.

NATIONAL PARK SERVICE: NPS sites in the Dayton region closed during the last shutdown in 2013. A NPS directive issued in September 2017, said parks would close if a lapse in federal government appropriations occurs.

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Grandson surprises grandfather with restored 1957 Chevy

Published: Wednesday, January 17, 2018 @ 2:06 PM

Man Surprises Grandfather With Restored Chevy Classic

Fred Lamar’s 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air sat in a garage, just as he left it, for 30 years.

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Until about a year ago, when his grandson, Cameron Dedman, started restoring the iconic Motor City machine.

On Saturday, Lamar, 81, nearly passed out when the car was revealed to him.

“I have been doing a full frame off restoration of this car a big surprise for my grandpa,” Dedman wrote in a post with the photos of the restored Bel Air. “He’s my best friend and truly deserves it.”

Lamar has owned the vehicle since the 1950s. The pair plan to take it to car shows this spring and summer, according to WHAS.

Dog found covered in icicles, sores, needs forever home

Published: Wednesday, January 17, 2018 @ 10:18 PM

Dog Found Freezing and Terrified Looking For Forever Home

A firefighter was driving home from work when he saw a dog in the middle of the road. While many drivers honked their horns and continued past the dog, the firefighter, Justin Luttrell, stopped. 

>> Read more trending news  

“She was freezing, shaking and terrified -- it was written all over her face with her tail tucked between her legs,” Lutrell said in a Facebook post Wednesday. “Before I left work I checked the weather. It was -1 with wind chill. I pulled over to try and pick her up.”

Lutrell said the dog was nearly hit by cars. He used cooked chicken and lunch meat to get her close and he finally caught up to the dog a fourth of a mile down the road.

“She had icicles hanging off of her with multiple sores on her body and looked anorexic,” Lutrell said in the post. “Not knowing if she’d bite me or if she had rabies, etc., I picked her up and put her in the back seat of my truck.”

Lutrell said he drove to an Animal Emergency Center in Memphis, where he was told the dog was heartworm negative, didn’t appear spayed and did not have a microchip.

Lutrell made the public post in hopes of getting the dog adopted.

“She is extremely sweet and will be needing a home,” he wrote. “Please share this to find this sweetheart a good loving home and keep her off the streets.”

Suspect sought after stealing SUV, abandoning children on freezing roads

Published: Wednesday, January 17, 2018 @ 11:21 PM

Suspect Stole SUV, Abandoned Children on Side of Freezing Roads

Authorities in Clayton County, Georgia, are searching for the person they say stole an SUV with two children inside from a gas station Wednesday before abandoning them in below-freezing temperatures on major roadways.

>> Read more trending news

One-month-old Ava Wilmer and 4-year-old Arya Davenport were found miles apart after mother Precious Wilmer’s 2009 Chevy Equinox was stolen about 5 p.m. from a QuikTrip on Riverdale Road, Clayton County police Sgt. Ashanti Marbury said. 

Precious Wilmer left the girls in the car with the engine running near a gas pump while she went inside the convenience store, Marbury said. 

She came out of the store and saw her car being driven away with her children in the back seat. 

Shortly into the search, Georgia State University police Chief Josephy Spillane found Arya walking down the shoulder of a roadway near I-285 and Riverdale Road, Clayton County polcie said. 

After roughly two hours, baby Ava was found in the middle of South Fulton Parkway still strapped in her car seat. 

Marbury said WSB-TV photojournalist Brian Ferguson led police to her after he saw an objecting sitting in the road on his way to cover the scene. 

The girls appeared to be OK, but were taken to Southern Regional Medical Center as a precaution. Metro Atlanta temperatures were in the 20s, but with winds reaching 20 mph, it felt like they were in the single digits, WSB-TV reported

Atlanta police later located Precious Wilmer’s stolen SUV on Metropolitan Parkway. 

No description of the suspect has been released. 

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