Orlando nightclub shooter Omar Mateen made “inflammatory comments” when he worked a security detail at a Florida county courthouse, which gained the FBI’s attention, authorities said Tuesday.
St. Lucie County Sheriff Ken Mascara said the remarks — the substance of which was not disclosed — prompted the FBI in early 2013 to investigate him for the first time. The comments also led to his permanent transfer out of the courthouse.
“Our staff was made aware of inflammatory comments made by Mateen,” Mascara said in a statement. “Our courthouse supervisor first requested that G4S management transfer him out of the courthouse rotation permanently. That was immediately granted.”
“Our agency then made the appropriate notifications to inform our federal partners,” he added. “It was at this time that the FBI began an investigation into Mateen.”
The FBI questioned Mateen twice after being alerted to him speaking of possible terrorist ties in 2013, but officials were “unable to verify the substance of his comments,” FBI Assistant Special Agent in Charge Ron Hopper said. That investigation was deemed inconclusive and was closed.
Mateen made it back on the FBI’s radar the year after over possible ties to an American suicide bomber, Hopper said. The FBI closed that investigation after authorities determined that Mateen did not pose as a threat at that time.
Mateen had worked for a security company called G4S since 2007, according to spokeswoman Monica Lewman-Garcia. He most recently was stationed at a gated retirement community in South Florida, she said.
Mateen’s former co-worker, Daniel Gilroy, told the New York Times that Mateen was “unstable” and at times displayed frightening behavior during the year they worked together. “He was very racist, very sexist, anti-Jew, antihomosexual,” Gilroy said. “And he made it known by derogatory statements as much as he could.”
G4S on Tuesday confirmed that Mateen was transferred out of the courthouse in October 2013. A month later, the company investigated workplace harassment claims Mateen made, a spokesperson said.
Mateen had passed a full background investigation, which looked into his criminal and medical histories, when he was hired. He also passed another check in 2013. “The fact that a law enforcement agency interviews an employee is not grounds for disciplinary action,” a G4S spokesperson said.