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Orlando gunman 'was a regular' at club and messaged men on gay dating apps

2016-06-14
An attack by Omar Mateen at an Orlando LGBT nightclub left 49 people dead and another 43 injured on Sunday, in an attack seemingly motivated by hate and violent extremism. However, Pulse clubbers and several men have now come forward revealing that Mateen was a "regular" at Pulse and that he would message men on gay dating apps. Kevin West, a regular at Pulse, spoke to the L.A. Times and revealed that Mateen had messaged him on and off for a year on gay app Jack'd before the shooting, and that he had seen Mateen in the early hours of Sunday morning shortly before the attack. West reveals he was dropping a friend off at the club at 1am and saw Mateen wearing a dark cap. "He walked directly past me," West said. "I said, 'Hey', and he turned and said, 'Hey.'" Sunday's atrocity at Pulse nightclub claimed the lives of 49 people. Ty Smith, a regular at Pulse, was interviewed by the Canadian Press and explained that Mateen would sometimes "go over in the corner and sit and drink by himself" but other times he would "get so drunk he was loud and belligerent." Smith also added that he didn't believe Mateen could be enraged by the sight of two men kissing. "That's straight-up crap," he said. "He's been around us. Some of those people did a little more than [kiss] outside the bar... He was partying with the people who supposedly drove him to do this?" Smith's husband Chris Callen, who performs at Pulse as drag queen under the name of Kristina McLauhlin, revealed that Mateen had been going to Pulse for "at least three years." A vigil was held in London’s Soho yesterday to pay tribute to the victims of the LGBT shooting. More stories: Barack Obama pays tribute to LGBT victims of Orlando gay club massacre Guardian columnist walks out of Sky News interview while discussing Orlando shooting