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Photo of a white low-rise building and parking lot.
The nightclub's exterior in 2006
Full name Pulse Orlando
Address 1912 South Orange Avenue
Location Orlando, Florida, U.S.
Coordinates 28.51961°N 81.37683°WCoordinates28.51961°N 81.37683°W
Owner
  • Barbara Poma
  • Ron Legler
Opened July 2, 2004; 12 years ago
Closed June 12, 2016

 

 
Pulse was a gay bar, dance club, and nightclub in Orlando, Florida, founded in 2004 by Barbara Poma and Ron Legler. On June 12, 2016, the club gained international attention as it was the scene of the deadliest mass shooting by a single gunman in U.S. history, and the deadliest terrorist attack on U.S. soil since the events of September 11, 2001. Forty-nine people were killed and 53 were injured. There are plans to convert the premises into a memorial dedicated to the victims
 
 
A group of people wearing Pulse logo shirts parade down a brick street carrying a banner with the club's logo on it. An individual dressed as Robin from Batman leads the procession.
 
Pulse representation at Come Out with Pride, 2009

Pulse hosted themed performances each night and had a monthly program featuring educational events geared towards the LGBT community.[1] According to Orlando Weekly, Pulse featured "three glitzy, throbbing rooms of club boys, twinks and twinks at heart. Every night has something different in store, but Pulse is known to have some pretty impressive drag shows, and the bar's dancers are usually gorgeous."[2] Because of the three areas, Lonely Planet Discover Floridadeemed it "three nightclubs",[3] while their Florida volume focused on it being "ultramodern".[4]

Top 10 Orlando called it a "firm favorite for the Orlando gay crowd",[5] The Rough Guide to Florida deemed it "justifiably popular", citing its "great lighting and sound plus cabaret performers, drag acts, and erotic dancers."[6] Pulse was the only gay club mentioned in The Rough Guide to the USA for Orlando.[7] According to listings, the entire premises, including the washrooms, are accessible.[8] Using "periodic consumer surveys", Zagat rated Pulse 25/30 for atmosphere, 25/30 decor, and 22/30 service.[9]

History

File:President Obama Delivers a Statement in Orlando.webm
 
Obama stating Pulse was a refuge for LGBT and Puerto Rican people

In 1985–prior to Pulse's founding–the property located at 1912 South Orange Avenue was home to a pizza restaurant named Lorenzo's.[10] By 1999, it was called Dante's, a bar with live music.[11] Dante's closed in January 2003.[12]

Founded by Barbara Poma and Ron Legler, Pulse opened on July 2, 2004 [13][1][14] Poma's brother, John, died in 1991 from AIDS, and the club is "named for John's pulse to live on", according to a marketing staff member in February 2016.[15][16] The venue has a focus on local talent.[16] Poma ensured that her brother's memory was prominent on the website, that the facility was more than "just another gay club".[15] Legler was President of the Florida Theatrical Association at the time of the foundation, and founded two nightclubs in Lake Eola Park in 2010, leaving for Baltimore in 2011.[17] The Washington Postdescribed its first 12 years as "a community hub for HIV prevention, breast-cancer awareness and immigrant rights", and reported it had partnered with educational and advocacy groups such as Come Out with PrideEquality Florida, and the Zebra Coalition.[15]

June 2016 shooting

see caption
 
Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson visits Pulse and the makeshift memorial outside of it on the three-month anniversary of the shooting

On June 12, 2016, 29-year-old Omar Mateen killed 49 people and wounded 53 others in a mass shooting. The attack is the deadliest single gunman mass shooting in United States history,[18][19][20][21][22] the deadliest incident of violence against LGBT people in U.S. history,[23] and the deadliest terrorist attack on U.S. soil since the September 11 attacks of 2001.[24][25][26]

In November 2016, the city of Orlando agreed to buy the nightclub for $2.25 million. Mayor Buddy Dyer expressed plans to convert the nightclub into a memorial to honor the memory of the victims.[27]

The owner refused to sell the nightclub to the city in December 2016.[28]

 

 

Omar Mateen.jpg
driver's license photo of Mateen
Born Omar Mir Seddique
November 16, 1986
New Hyde Park, NY, U.S.
Died June 12, 2016 (aged 29)
Orlando, Florida, U.S.
Cause of death Eight gunshot wounds by police officers
Citizenship United States
Occupation Security guard
Known for Perpetrator of the 2016 Orlando nightclub shooting
Spouse(s) Noor Salman
Parent(s) Mir Seddique Mateen (father)
 
Killings
Date June 12, 2016
c.  2:00 a.m. – c.  5:00 a.m.
Location(s) Orlando, Florida, United States
Target(s) Patrons of Pulse gay nightclub
Killed 49
Injured 58
Weapons SIG Sauer MCX semi-automatic rifle
9mm Glock 17 semi-automatic pistol

 

 

 

Early life

 

Mateen was born Omar Mir Seddique[6] on November 16, 1986,[7] in New Hyde Park, New York, to Afghan parents. His father, Mir Seddique Mateen, is a Persian-speaking Pashtun[8] who emigrated from Afghanistan in the 1980s.[9][10][11]After being raised in New York for a few years, he moved with his family to Port St. Lucie, Florida, in 1991.[8] His family was described as being moderate Muslims and "an all-American family".[12]

 

Behavior in school

 

At a young age, Mateen displayed a preoccupation with violence, the Associated Press and The Washington Post reported. For his elementary and middle school education, he attended classes in St. Lucie County, Florida. While at Mariposa Elementary School, a third grade teacher wrote that Mateen was "very active ... constantly moving, verbally abusive, rude, aggressive ... much talk about violence & sex ... hands all over the place – on other children, in his mouth". In the seventh grade, Mateen was moved to a separate class with the purpose of avoiding "conflicts with other students" and suffered from poor scholarly performance due to "many instances of behavioral problems".[13]

 

A classmate at Mariposa said that Mateen was a bully, disrespectful to girls and acted like he was better than his classmates. Another classmate reported that Mateen was bullied at school because of his weight and his Afghan heritage. His parents were described as "dismissive" of his poor behavior while his father "had a reputation for being disrespectful of female teachers and dismissive of complaints about his son".[12] In 1999, while Mateen was in the eighth grade, his teacher sent a letter to his father regarding an "attitude and inability to show self-control".[13]

 

Mateen began his secondary education at Martin County High School in 2000, and at the age of 14 was expelled after being in a fight in math class, where he was briefly arrested without being handcuffed and charged with battery and disrupting school, though the charges were later dropped.[14][15] While a sophomore attending Spectrum, an alternative high school for students with behavioral issues, classmates told The Washington Post that Mateen cheered in support of the hijackers during the September 11 attacks and that he stated that Osama bin Laden was his uncle who taught him how to shoot AK-47s, all of this before knowing that bin Laden was the mastermind of the attacks.[12][13][16] After his outburst, Mateen's father arrived at the school to pick him up and slapped him in the face, with Mateen later being suspended for five days after the incident.[12][13] Soon after the September 11 attacks, "he shocked other students on his school bus by imitating an exploding plane", reported The New York Times.[17]

 

A retired dean of Martin County High School, Dan Alley, said that they "tried to counsel him and show him the error of his ways, but it never had the effect that we were hoping for," and that his father "would not back up the school, and he would always take his son's side".[13] Mateen was later sent to St. Lucie West Centennial High School after getting into a fight with a student.[16][18][19][20][21] By the time Mateen had returned and graduated from Martin County's Stuart Adult Vocational School in 2003, he had been suspended for 48 days for being involved in fights and injuring other students.[8][13]

 

Post-secondary education and employment

 

Mateen attended Indian River State College's Criminal Justice Training program and in a questionnaire, he admitted to committing or being involved in a crime that went undetected, but did not provide specific details. He went on to earn an associate of science degree in criminal justice technology from the college in 2006.[8][21][22]He worked in a number of local stores and restaurants while attending school.[8]

 

In October 2006, Mateen began working as a recruit for the Florida Department of Corrections, being assigned to the Martin Correctional Institution. In a letter explaining his juvenile record as part of his successful application, Mateen explained the incident of when he was arrested at school when he was fourteen. He also wrote that he had experimented with marijuana as a young teenager. Following the Virginia Tech shooting in April 2007, Mateen suggested in a corrections officer training class that he would bring a gun to class. P.H. Skipper, who was the warden at the institution, wrote that "in light of the tragic events at Virginia Tech officer Mateen's inquiry about bringing a weapon to class is at best extremely disturbing". Days later on April 27, 2007, Mateen "was involuntarily dismissed" from the program and never became a certified corrections officer.[15][21][23][24]

 

Mateen then worked for British-based security firm G4S Secure Solutions in Jupiter, Florida, from September 2007 until his death.[14][25][26][27]

 

Screening issues

 

G4S said two screenings of Mateen—one conducted upon hiring and the other in 2013—had raised no red flags.[28] Under Florida state law, for him to work as an armed guard the company was required either to make a full psychiatric evaluation of Mateen, or to administer a "validated written psychological test".[29] The test administered was the updated Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI-2), a test used for job screenings and court cases requiring those subjected to it to agree or disagree with statements such as "My soul sometimes leaves my body" and "Once in a while I think of things too bad to talk about."[29] Carol Nudelman, the psychologist listed on the character certification submitted by G4S to the state said she stopped working for the company in 2005. After the shooting, Nudelman, who was said to have evaluated and cleared Mateen for his firearms license in 2007, according to the records of the security company G4S, denied ever meeting him or having lived in Florida at the time, and said she had stopped her practice in Florida in January 2006. G4S said Mateen was not actually interviewed by a psychologist, but rather, a psychologist evaluated the results of a standard test used in job screenings and his test was evaluated by the firm that bought Nudelman’s practice, Headquarters for Psychological Evaluation, owned by Dr Joanne Bauling.[30][31] G4S said this was a "clerical error."[29] On September 10, 2016, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services fined G4S $151,400 for providing inaccurate psychological testing information after it found the psychologist whose opinion was necessary to permit Mateen to carry a weapon was not practicing as a screener. Between 2006 and 2016, 1,514 forms were submitted erroneously listing Nudelman’s name. Mateen's form was among those investigated.[32] He had taken the MMPI-2 and Dr. Syed Shafeeq Rahman, who had close ties with Mateen's family, gave him a medical clearance.[13] G4S admitted Mateen's form had a "clerical error", and clarified that he had instead been cleared by Rahman, who was from the same firm that bought the wrongly named doctor's practice. Rahman had not interviewed Mateen, but evaluated the results of a standard test used in the screening he undertook before being hired.[33]

 

Nonetheless, G4S removed Mateen from his job post at a courthouse because of threats he made towards coworkers, including one threat where he claimed he would have al-Qaeda kill a deputy's family.[34][35] Mateen had claimed that his coworkers and courthouse deputies were making racist comments towards him.[35] Despite this, G4S "kept Mateen as an employee" but moved him "to a kiosk at a gated community in Palm Beach County."[36] They never informed the community or its property management company about why he was transferred there.[35]

 

Mateen held an active concealed carry permit and an armed security guard license.[37][38] It was also noted that Mateen had no adult criminal record.[39] According to licensing records, he was a proficient shooter who scored at or above the 98th percentile with a 9mm semiautomatic pistol.[40]

 

In 2010, he was videotaped while working security for a site related to the BP oil spill.[41][42] Mateen said of those working on the cleanup: "Nobody gives a shit here. Everybody's just, get out to get paid. They're like hoping for more oil to come out and more people to complain so they'll have jobs. They want more disaster to happen." Video of his comments were included in a 2012 documentary, The Big Fix.[43]

 

Personal life

 

In 2006, Mateen filed a petition for a name change, adding Mateen as his surname to match that of his parents.[6][8]

 

In April 2009, Mateen married his first wife, an Uzbekistan-born woman whom he met in 2008 through Myspace, a social networking site.[44] They separated after four months and divorced in July 2011.[22][45][46]

 

Mateen visited Saudi Arabia for an eight-day trip in 2011 and a ten-day trip in 2012. The latter was organized by the Islamic Center at New York University. It included twelve New York City police officers and groups from Columbia and Yale and visited Mecca and Medina.[47][48] Around these times, he went to the United Arab Emirates.[49][50] FBI Director James Comey said Saudi officials helped investigate Mateen's trips.[51] In June 2016, the House Intelligence Committee said that U.S. investigators "are searching for details about the Saudi Arabia trips."[48]

 

In 2011, Mateen met his second wife, Noor Salman, on an online dating site, and the two married shortly afterward.[52] She moved into Mateen's Fort Pierce home in November 2012.[21] She grew up in Rodeo, California, the daughter of Muslim Palestinian Arab immigrants.[53] By September 2013, they were living in a house in Port St. Lucie with Mateen's father and another relative. She reportedly left Mateen and joined relatives in Rodeo, California, by December 2015. At the time of his death, Mateen had a three-year-old son with his second wife.[21][54][55]

 

At the time of the shooting, he lived about 100 miles (160 kilometers) from Orlando, Florida,[9][10] in Fort Pierce, but received mail at his parents' home in nearby Port St. Lucie.[22] According to Florida Department of Law Enforcement records, he had no criminal record in Florida.[22]

 

Characterization

 

Mateen's father, Mir Seddique Mateen, who hosted a TV show called Durand Jirga Show on satellite television network Payam-e-Afghan in 2015 in which he represented himself as a candidate for the President of Afghanistan,[11][56] and who has expressed gratitude towards the Taliban,[57] said of his son's actions, "This had nothing to do with religion." He was quoted as saying that he had seen his son get angry after witnessing a gay couple kiss in front of his family at the Bayside Marketplace in Miami months before the attack, which he suggested might have been a motivating factor.[58][59]

 

Following the nightclub attack, Mateen's ex-wife told media outlets that during their marriage, Mateen was mentally unstable, and would beat her and keep her completely separated from her family.[60] She also said that he was bipolar and had a history of using steroids.[46] Mateen's second wife also said that Mateen became physically and verbally abusive towards her six months into their marriage, though she noted him being kinder in the weeks leading up to the shooting.[52] A former high school student told the Washington Post that he witnessed 15-year-old Mateen on the day of the September 11 attacks being physically assaulted by his father, Mir Seddique Mateen, in front of other students.[61]

 

Imam Shafiq Rahman at the Fort Pierce Islamic Center told reporters that Mateen would come to the mosque "three or four times a week"[62] with his father and his three-year-old son as recently as two days before the shooting, and said, "He was the most quiet guy. He would come and pray and leave. There was no indication at all of violence." Rahman added that he did not preach violence toward homosexuals.[63][64]

 

A former high school friend and coworker said that Mateen had no obvious conflicts with his gay coworkers at Treasure Coast Square, a shopping mall at Jensen Beach.[14][65]

 

A former coworker who worked with Mateen in a gated community in western Port St. Lucie described him as "unhinged and unstable". He also said that he frequently made homophobicracist, and sexist comments, and talked about killing people.[6][66] The coworker stated he complained to G4S about Mateen "several times";[67]another co-worker told The New York Times Mateen made people wait at the gate for a number of reasons, including "if it was time for him to do his prayers."[68] A resident who had lived at the community since 2011 described Mateen as "very polite" and "a very nice, positive person",[66] however, another customer said Mateen "acted like a straight-up predator."[68]

 

Sexual orientation

 

Several people who knew Mateen have speculated that he might have been gay or bisexual. A male friend of his from 2006, when the two were in police academytogether, said that Mateen went to gay clubs with him and that Mateen once expressed an interest in dating him. Club-goers also recalled Mateen dancing with another man.[69][70] One classmate, who asked not to be identified by name, said Mateen asked him if he was gay.[71][72] The FBI has investigated many of these claims but has not found reasonable evidence to establish Mateen's sexual orientation.[73]

 

After the shooting, the Orlando Sentinel and The Palm Beach Post reported that at least five regular customers at the Pulse nightclub had seen Mateen visit the venue on at least a dozen occasions. Sometimes Mateen drank in a corner by himself "and other times he would get so drunk he was loud and belligerent."[19][71] A witness, who recognized Mateen outside the club an hour before the shootings, told investigators that Mateen had been messaging him fo