Portrait of killer: Who was Orlando nightclub shooter? - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Portrait of killer: Who was Orlando nightclub shooter?

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(NBC) -

Omar Mateen killed 49 people and injured dozens of others in a three-hour rampage at Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida early Sunday. It was the worst mass shooting in modern U.S. history — and the most deadly act of terror in the country since 9/11.

Mateen died in a shootout with police, leaving the world to wonder why he did it.

Slowly, a picture of him is emerging.

Who was Omar Mateen?

Mateen, 29, was born in New York to Afghan immigrants described by one family friend as loving, close-knit and "very respectful" of America. His clan ended up in Florida, where he attended Indian River State College in Fort Pierce, a two-hour drive south of Orlando. He graduated with an associate of science degree in criminal justice technology in 2006, and later got a job as a private security guard. He was fascinated with law enforcement, people who knew him said.

He was married twice, and was the father of a 3-year-old boy.

One of his jobs was at the St. Lucie County Courthouse — as a private security officer, not as a member of the county Sheriff's Department, officials said. He worked security at PGA Village in Port Saint Lucie, where Aurelia Kennedy, a frequent visitor, became friendly with him. She told NBC News that Mateen decorated his car with a Marine-themed license plate and stickers, which led her to mistakenly believe he was a Marine.

He was friendly, she said, but seemed more withdrawn in recent days, she said.

Did Mateen have a criminal record?

Mateen does not appear to have any criminal convictions. But in recent years he attracted authorities' attention.

In 2013, co-workers reported he had made "inflammatory" comments to them about radical Islamic propaganda, prompting the FBI to investigate. The agency returned the following year to look into a potential link between Mateen and another Fort Pierce resident, Moner Mohammad Abu-Salha, a Palestinian-American who carried out a suicide attack in Syria in May 2014, according to The Associated Press. Agents determined that contact was minimal and did not constitute a substantive relationship at that time, FBI agent Ronald Hopper told the AP.

How did Mateen get his guns?

Since Mateen worked as a security guard, he had a license to buy weapons, and he legally purchased the handgun and AR-15 rifle used in the Pulse massacre days before the attack, authorities said.

What motivated Mateen to kill so many people?

Investigators are still trying to figure that out. But there are a lot clues.

His first wife, Sitora Yusufiy, said she met him online and married him quickly in 2009, but left him within months of their marriage, which finally ended in divorce in 2011. She said he was prone to violent rages in which "he would express hate toward everything," she said. He beat her and isolated her from her family, who persuaded her to flee, she said.

She described him as being mentally ill. But he didn't show any signs of radicalization back then, she said.

A former colleague at the security firm G4S Secure Solutions said Mateen often showed up for work early and was fascinated by law enforcement. But he also had a short emotional fuse and went on hateful rants, the co-worker, Daniel Gilroy, said. "He had anger management issues. Something would set him off, but the things that would set him off were always women, race or religion." Gilroy said he requested a transfer to stay away from Mateen.

At the start of his rampage, Mateen called 911 and spoke of the head of ISIS and the two brothers who set off bombs at the 2013 Boston Marathon, authorities said. He also mentioned ISIS to police during the siege. But how he became influenced by radical Islam — and whether he had been in touch with any terrorists overseas — remains unclear.

Federal officials said Mateen traveled to Saudi Arabia in 2011 and the United Arab Emirates in 2012. The Saudi foreign ministry said Mateen was in Saudi Arabia during both trips, to perform a Muslim pilgrimage called Umrah. But U.S. authorities say they want to know more about those trips.

Mateen's father, Sediqque Mir Mateen, said he saw his son frequently but noticed nothing alarming. Recently, during a visit to Miami, Omar Mateen became upset when he saw two men kissing, Sediqque Mir Mateen said. But Mateen did not appear unhinged or violent, his father said.

"He got enough attention from the family, good education, good life and with a good job. So I am as shocked as you are," he told NBC News.

Hours before the massacre, Mateen stopped by his parents' house. He said hello and left, Sediqque Mir Mateen said. He seemed calm.

"I wish he was alive so I could ask him that question. One question: Why did you do it?" 

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