Jun 19 2016

Gun Shop Owner Warned the FBI Weeks Before Orlando Attack

gun shop owner warned the FBI of Mateen

A Florida gun shop owner warned the FBI of Mateen and his “suspicious behavior” in Lotus Gunworks weeks before the Orlando attack. Robbie Abell recently stepped forward and told several news outlets that Mateen came to his shop in search of body armor and bulk ammunition about five or six weeks ago. According to the Wall Street Journal, the shop “shut him down on all sales,” recognizing that his questions and requests were not those of a “normal civilian.” After the shop refused to sell him the body armor – which is typically purchased by law enforcement – the staff reports Mateen made a call on his phone in a foreign language, hung up, and began asking about the bulk ammunition.

After Mateen left the store empty handed, employs called the FBI. The FBI has confirmed that they received a report on Mateen from the shop in May. However, the shop was unable to provide his name, date of birth, or telephone number, as no sale was made; it was also concluded that surveillance footage of Mateen was too grainy, thus authorities say they were not able to investigate Mateen any further. Had authorities investigated, this would have been the fourth FBI probe into Mateen since 2013.

During previous investigations, Mateen was employed as a private guard for a security company, G4S Secure Solutions USA Inc.. The probes prompted G4S to conduct its own investigation into Mateen. The investigation concluded that the allegations against him were serious enough to transfer him to an “unarmed position” at a retirement community (where he could still technically carry) but not serious enough to fire him or reclaim his company-issued handgun. The company told NBC News that it is now conducting an internal review to see if the company missed any “warning signs” in Mateen’s case. The company is also a contractor for DHS and State agencies, which also raises questions about how his case was handled.

One of the FBI investigations was prompted by Mateen making comments that he had family ties to Al Qaeda and that he hoped law enforcement would raid his home so that he could “martyr himself”. The comments were made while working at a courthouse, and the courthouse demanded he be removed – which resulted in the transfer to a retirement community. While working at the retirement community, coworker Daniel Gilroy says that Mateen would often suffer fits of rage and that he “talked of killing people”, but his complaints to management went unheard. When Mateen learned Gilroy had complained to their supervisors, Mateen harassed him with angry text messages and phone calls several times a day until Gilroy eventually quit his job.

Despite being denied by Abell and his shop, the numerous FBI investigations, and a history of threatening behavior, Mateen passed a national background check at St. Lucie Shooting Center in Port Saint Lucie in June. His purchases were made days apart and the shop followed ATF laws and procedures. Mateen had a clean record and had been removed from all FBI watch lists at the time of sale.

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