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Kevin West said he was in the parking lot at the Pulse nightclub at 1 a.m. The men had met more than a year ago when Mateen reached out to West on Jack’d, a dating app for men.
They then lost touch until three months ago, when Mateen made contact again, mentioned that he would be in Orlando soon and suggested meeting for a drink.
He earned an associate’s degree from Indian River State College in 2006.
In the court documents, Mateen disclosed his work history, a string of jobs from 2002 to 2006 at GNC, Hollister, Gold’s Gym, Nutrition World, Walgreens, Chick-fil-A, Circuit City and Publix.
Former classmate Samuel King and his friends also hung out with Mateen at the mall, where Mateen worked at the GNC store after high school and King at Ruby Tuesday.
Half the workers at the restaurant were openly gay, King said, including himself.
Winstanley was not in the same room as Mateen that day. If he was caught celebrating something like that, he would have gotten beaten up.’’ Winstanley said he never saw signs of radicalization in Mateen in high school, adding, “I know Omar liked America.’’ He said the two once had a conversation about Mateen’s Muslim faith.
“I never heard about him doing anything like that,’’ said Winstanley, who attended school with Mateen from grades six through 10. “Omar explained the Muslim religion to me,’’ Winstanley said. It was just some of the things his culture does, the food they eat.
“He was a chubby kid and got bullied about his weight.Nothing radical Islam at all.’’ Sarah Zaidi, who was best friends with one of Mateen’s three sisters, described the Mateens as “an all-American family.” “His mom worked for a while at a day-care center.His dad did stuff with stocks and investment,” Zaidi said. None of the sisters or mom even wore a headscarf like some Muslims do.” Two of Mateen’s sisters are now married and have kids in the same area, Zaidi said. But as the only son, Mateen seemed to have fewer friends than his sisters.“I don’t really know if he was doing it because he was being taught some stuff at home or just doing it for attention because he didn’t have a lot of friends. We weren’t really close friends, but friends at least a little,” he said. When he arrived at the dean’s office, Mateen was also there, apparently for saying rude things about Americans deserving to be attacked, said this student, who was not in the classroom to witness the comments.“After 9/11 happened, he started changing and acting different.” At the time, Mateen was attending the Spectrum alternative school, a campus in Stuart, Fla., for students with behavioral issues. The first former classmate — who was in the classroom — vividly recalled Mateen’s father picking him up after he got in trouble. “And in the courtyard in front of everyone, the dad slapped him right across the face.” After that day, Zirkle said, “he kept doing it and saying crazy things. He was totally cool before 9/11, and then something changed.” Zirkle and others think Mateen was suspended or expelled from the school shortly afterward.