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Pulse Shooter's Ex-Wife Says He Was Gay, Targeted Club to Impress Father

Pulse Shooter's Ex-Wife Says He Was Gay, Targeted Club to Impress Father

Sitora Yusufiy
Sitora Yusufiy

The FBI, however, has not characterized the act as a hate crime.

Pulse shooter Omar Mateen's first wife is once again asserting that he was gay, and she now says he targeted the Orlando LGBT nightclub to impress his homophobic father.

Sitora Yusufiy, who was married to Mateen from 2009 to 2011, made the statements in an interview with Crime Watch Daily, a syndicated TV program, in an episode that aired this week. "I really feel like he was struggling with being himself because he was gay," she told reporter Kim Goldman.

Yusufiy said Mateen was not interested in having sex with her except for procreation, and that he visited gay nightclubs, dating websites, and hookup apps. At least one man came out claiming to have had an intimate relationship with Mateen, but it was never confirmed. A senior law enforcement official said that the man who told Univision that he had been in a relationship with Mateen was not "credible."

She had earlier asserted to several media outlets that he was gay, and several men have reported seeing him at gay clubs, including Pulse, and interacting with him on gay hookup apps such as Grindr, although their reports have not been confirmed. And her comment that he targeted Pulse because it was a gay club contradicts the conclusions reached by the FBI, as investigates there say they do not consider the attack a hate crime.

Mateen opened fire at Pulse in the early hours of June 12, when the club was holding Latin night, killing 49 people and wounding 53. He died in a shootout with police.

Yusifiy insisted that Mateen attacked the club because he believed it would impress his father, Seddique Mateen, who often disparaged gays. The elder Mateen has said he was "90 percent, 95 percent" certain his son was not gay. The elder Mateen told NBC that his son, Omar, had recently been upset that his 3-year-old son witnessed two men kissing.

"They were kissing each other and touching each other and he said, 'Look at that. In front of my son, they are doing that,'" the elder Mateen told NBC.

Yusifiy also told Goldman that Omar Mateen often showed uncontrollable rage and physically abused her; she left him because she feared he might kill her, moving from Florida back to her home in New Jersey. She expressed doubt about his reported sympathies with the terrorist group ISIS. "I knew that was nonsense," she said.

In the interview, Yusifiy also revealed for the first time that after she left Mateen, she discovered she was pregnant. She decided to terminate the pregnancy. She now lives in Boulder, Colo., is remarried, and is pregnant once again. Mateen married a second time as well.

Watch the interview, in two parts, below.

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