STUART, Fla. — Pulse nightclub shooter Omar Mateen’s troubled school days included an incident where he was charged with battery and another where a school official said he was suspended for cheering the Sept. 11 attacks two days after they took place.
On Thursday, the Martin County School District released records showing Mateen was suspended 15 times when he attended junior high and high school from 1999 until 2003. At least two of those suspensions were the result of violent incidents.
Mateen’s final suspension was on Sept. 13, 2001, and was issued by a school administrator named Evelyn Stettin. In a conversation with Yahoo News on Thursday, Stettin said Mateen was suspended for celebrating the 9/11 terrorist attacks, which occurred two days earlier.
“He was very pleased to see it happen,” Stettin said of the attacks. “We took him out of class, and we were trying to, you know, talk with him, and we had a school psych present, but basically he didn’t show any remorse. Nothing. I mean he was pretty happy it happened.”
Stettin said school officials discussed Mateen’s reaction to the terrorist attacks with his parents. She suggested Mateen’s parents were unconcerned by the incident.
“We spoke to the parents and they didn’t really do very much about it, let’s put it that way,” Stettin recounted.
Multiple former classmates of Mateen’s told the Washington Post they also recalled his joyful reaction to Sept. 11. Stettin also said her son attended school with Mateen. She said her son thought Mateen was “very weird.”
“He stayed by himself a lot. He didn’t do a lot of socializing,” Stettin said of Mateen.
Mateen’s disciplinary records show two of his suspensions were due to “fighting with injury,” which means they involved a violent incident. Those incidents occurred days apart on May 3 and May 9, 2001, at Martin County High School.
On Thursday, the Florida Department of Corrections released dozens of records from Mateen’s brief employment as a prison guard when Mateen was 19. Those files include a letter where Mateen described one of the violent incidents at his high school in his own words.
When he applied for the Department of Corrections job, Mateen had to explain a 2001 criminal charge for battery and disturbing a school function.
In a one-page handwritten letter to prison officials, Mateen said he was charged following a May 2001 fight with another student in his math class at Martin High School. The letter, dated Sept. 26, 2006, says the disruption charge was later dismissed and that he received probation for the battery charge.
“It has been five years since the fight occurred and I have not gotten in any altercations ending up in physical contact,” Mateen wrote. “This was an experience of me growing up and I learned a big lesson from it.”
In the prison employment application, Mateen also admitted to experimenting with marijuana when he was in his early teens. Based on his academic records, Mateen’s youthful drug use may have gotten him in hot water at school.
In addition to suspending Mateen for celebrating 9/11, the records show that Stettin, the school administrator, issued him a seven-day suspension on May 15, 2001. That suspension was identified as being for an unspecified rule violation that did not involve violence. Stettin told Yahoo News she didn’t recall the specific details of that incident, but she said a suspension of that length is “always a fight or drugs.”
According to records, Mateen worked as a correctional officer from October 2006 to April 2007 before being terminated for failing to obtain state licensing required for the job.
Early Sunday morning, Mateen entered the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Fla., where he killed 49 people and injured more than 50 others in the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history. Mateen, 29, was killed in a shootout with police at the nightclub. Authorities are currently investigating the attack.
Read Mateen’s handwritten letter about his May 2001 fight below.