The Orlando nightclub massacre was an act of revenge against gay Latin men not terrorism, alleges a man who claims to be the gunman’s former lover.
The man, wearing a prosthetic facial mask to disguise his features and using the pseudonym “Miguel,” made the accusations during an exclusive TV interview with Univision News.
Miguel said he and Mateen, 29, met on Grindr, a gay dating app, and had a two-month “friends with benefits” relationship last fall.
“He was a very sweet guy,” Miguel said. “He loved to be cuddled.”
Univision reported that the FBI told the network that agents have interviewed the man, but FBI officials did not immediately return messages from Yahoo News regarding “Miguel” or the focus of that interview.
Omar Mateen died in a shootout with police after authorities said he killed 49 people and injured 53 others on June 12 at Pulse, a popular Orlando gay dance club.
Authorities are still investigating the attack, but according to phone transcripts released on Monday, Mateen called 911 and swore allegiance to the leader of the Islamic State while he opened fire in the club.
“Maybe he wanted to die as a hero for something terrible he did,” Miguel told Univision. “They cannot think this was terrorism. There’s too many questions that have to be answered.”
Mateen’s rage on June 12, Miguel alleged, may have stemmed from an encounter in which Mateen told him he had sex with two Puerto Rican men, one of whom later revealed he was HIV positive.
“He adored Latinos, gay Latinos, with brown skin — but he felt rejected,” Miguel told Univision. “He felt used by them — there were moments in the Pulse nightclub that made him feel really bad. Guys used him. That really affected him. I believe this crazy horrible thing he did — that was revenge.”
The night of the attack was promoted as Latin Night at the club.
Mateen, an American born to Afghan immigrants, also struggled with his father’s view of Islam and hatred of homosexuals, Miguel said.
“Gay people is the devil and gay people have to die — that’s what his father told him,” Miguel recalled.
A day after the shooting, Seddique Mir Mateen, the gunman’s father, posted a video to Facebook in which he reportedly said, “God will punish those involved in homosexuality,” adding it’s “not an issue that humans should deal with.” The elder Mateen’s Facebook accounts now appear to be deleted.
Miguel said he and Mateen spent 15 to 20 nights together last fall, but stopped dating when Miguel moved from Orlando in late December.
The man said he asked that his identity be hidden because he is worried about his safety.
“I don’t know what kind of reaction his father can have,” Miguel said. “I don’t know what kind of reaction this organization, ISIS, can have too.”
An autopsy on Mateen was completed earlier this week.
“At the request of the FBI, no further information is available regarding the shooter’s autopsy report, who the body was released to and when the body was released,” the Orlando County Medical Examiner’s office said in a written statement.
Jason Sickles is a national reporter for Yahoo News. Follow him on Twitter (@jasonsickles).