This past June, the 30th to be precise, my mother had an appointment to see an eye specialist located next to ORMC, the Orlando Regional Medical Center. It's right up the street from the LGBT-themed Pulse nightclub, scene of the nation's deadliest mass shooting of innocent civilians by a single person. 49 people died and 53 were injured before the killer was neutralized by law enforcement. I took my trusty camera along for the ride. It was 18 days after the murderous spree on 12 June, 2016.
Rumors rapidly spread that the shooter, Omar Mateen, was a disgruntled, closeted gay man. People who frequented the club said they had seen him there before. Others who came forward claimed he used gay dating sites and apps. There was a problem with the allegations, though. Like witnesses at the scene of a car accident, no one could give the same story. After careful examination of the facts, the FBI found no evidence on his cell phone or elsewhere that any of it was true. No real evidence existed.
During one of his 911 calls, Mateen swore allegiance to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of Islamic State. He said the shooting was triggered by the US killing of Abu Waheeb and that we must stop bombing ISIL. The CIA conducted an investigation and found no link between him and Islamic State. As a matter of fact, the shooting was classified as an act of domestic terrorism, although IS did release a meaningless statement. Mateen's pledge of allegiance to ISIL was interesting because he had once claimed to be a member of Hezbollah, a Shi'ite militia based in Lebanon. The Islamic State is affiliated with the Sunni sect, and are at war with the Shi'ites. They hate each other. That made Mateen a thoroughly confused individual.
I wonder if there's a third possibility; something that could be added to the other two – something that might paint a more complete picture. Many years ago, I knew an Egyptian family that fled their homeland because of religious persecution. (They were Christians.) The Masoods were genuinely lovely people; very caring, giving, hardworking, and everything you'd hope for in people coming from a foreign land to live the American dream. They would give you the shirt off their backs. When I met them, their children were in elementary school. I watched them grow up and after their son graduated high school, he enrolled at the University of Florida in Gainesville. The first time he returned home on break, he was a bit disgruntled and resentful about something. Now, mind you, he was merely complaining, not angry. He was a good guy and not at all violent or vindictive. He said that, because his skin-tone was a bit darker, he passed as Latino and many of the students addressed him in Spanish. “¿Cómo está Ud?”
“Dave,” he said, “I don't speak a word of Spanish!”
Is it at all possible that Omar Mateen had a hatred for Latin Americans because he was always confused as one? Proud of his Pashtun heritage, it served to enrage him? And wasn't that fateful Saturday night/Sunday morning “Latin Night” at Pulse?