Ex-Wife of Orlando Gunman Says He Was Gay

     (CN) – The ex-wife of the man behind the Sunday morning massacre at a gay nightclub in Orlando said Tuesday that her former husband likely carried out the shooting that left 49 dead because he was in turmoil about his own sexuality.
     In the aftermath of the carnage, several patrons of the Pulse nightclub said shooter Omar Mateen was a regular there.
     On Tuesday, Mateen’s first wife, Sitora Yusufiy, whom he met online in 2009, told the New York Daily News that she believes he went on his rampage because he was gay, and not because he was a homegrown Islamic extremist.
     She repeated those comments in subsequent interviews with a Brazilian television station and with CNN in the United States.
     “When we had gotten married, he confessed to me about his past,” Yusufiy told CNN. “He said that he very much enjoyed going to clubs and the nightlife, and there was a lot of pictures of him.
     “I feel like it’s a side of him or a part of him that he lived, but probably didn’t want everybody to know about,” she said.
     Yusufiy was joined in her Brazilian TV appearance by her fiance, Marcio Dias.
     Speaking Portuguese, he told the channel she told him Mateen had “gay tendencies” and had been called gay in front of her on several occasions by his father.
     Jim Van Horn, who described himself a frequent patron at Orlando’s Pulse night club, said Mateen was a regular at the club and that he witnessed the shooter trying to pick up men at the bar.
     Speaking to The Associated Press late Monday, the 71-year-old Van Horn said he met Mateen once. He said the younger man was telling him about his ex-wife.
     Van Horn says some friends then called him away and told him they didn’t want him talking to Mateen because “they thought he was a strange person.”
     Since Yusufiy and Van Horn’s interviews, several news outlets have reported Mateen maintained profiles on a number of gay dating apps, including Grindr, Jack’d and Adam4Adam. An official with the FBI said the agency is looking into these reports, but declined to comment further and spoke on condition of anonymity.
     Representatives of Jack’d did not immediately return a call for comment.
     Grindr officials said they “will continue to cooperate with the authorities and do not comment on ongoing investigations.”
     A spokesman for Adam4Adam said the company is looking at conversations and profiles in the Orlando area for any activity by Mateen but hasn’t found anything yet.
     In the meantime, officials with an agency collecting blood donations across Florida continued to urge people to give blood in the wake of the Orlando nightclub massacre. But that effort has not been without controversy.
     Three Democrats in Congress said Monday that it was “unacceptable” that gay and bisexual men have been barred from donating blood after the shooting at a gay Orlando nightclub.
     As hundreds rushed to blood banks after the shooting, rumors spread that no one would be turned away. However, the FDA bars blood donations from men who have had sex with a man in the previous year.
     Illinois Rep. Mike Quigley’s office issued a statement calling for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to “lift this prejudicial ban.” Quigley is the vice-chair of the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus. California Rep. Barbara Lee and Wisconsin Sen. Tammy Baldwin also signed the statement.
     They say the Orlando shooting shows “how crucial it is for FDA to develop better blood donor policies that are based on science and on individual risk factors.”
     The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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