57ºF

Neighbors say Orlando gunman kept to himself

29-year-old Omar Mateen had lived in Fort Pierce condominium past 9 years

FORT PIERCE, Fla. – Woodlands Condominiums, where Omar Mateen lived in Fort Pierce, is quiet Monday, 24 hours after investigators descended on his home in the hours after the Orlando nightclub massacre.  Evidence tape is still on a car in the driveway of a home that was swarmed Sunday by state and federal officials searching for any clues in the shootings that took 50 lives, including Mateen, and left 53 others with gunshot wounds.

“This a very quiet neighborhood and if someone was wanting to live and hide, I guess this is the place to do it,” said one neighbor who didn’t want to give his name.

News4Jax was told Mateen, 29, had lived in the complex since 2009.  The neighbor who spoke didn't know Mateen personally, but says she was shocked to find out the killer lived just a few hundred feet from her.

“The world is getting a little crazy,” she said. “There is so much terrorism of all kinds going on everywhere. You just hope and pray that you don't wind up in the middle of (it) like those poor souls at the nightclub.”

Others in the area had seen Mateen multiple times in the neighborhood.

“He was very quiet and kept to himself,” Jason Beers said. “Normally everybody around here, they come down, they'll say, ‘Good morning,’ you know, that sort of thing. He never said anything and just kept to himself.”

Mateen’s silver Toyota is still parked at the complex, with search warrants and property receipts on the driver's seat. As officials worked methodically Monday, making sure the car, the condo and the complex were all safe, neighbors looked on, not sure at the time what exactly was unfolding or what investigators might find.

Mateen’s father condemned what his son did and apologized to the victims and their families.

"I don't approve (of) what he did. What he did was completely an act of terrorist,” Seddique Mateen said. “I loved him so much and dearly. I condemn what he did. I wish I did know that what he was doing ... If I did catch him, I would (have) arrested him myself."

The FBI investigated Omar Mateen, an American-born Muslim, for 10 months beginning in May 2013 after he was said to have made inflammatory remarks in support of terrorists.

FBI Director James Comey said investigators introduced him to confidential sources, followed him and reviewed some of his communications, but Mateen claimed he made the remarks in anger because co-workers were teasing and discriminating against him because he was Muslim.

Comey said the FBI now admits that Mateen had "strong indications of radicalization" and was probably inspired by foreign terrorist organizations.
In the past few years, Mateen also expressed support for both al-Qaida and its enemy Hezbollah, Comey noted.

As for whether the FBI should have done anything differently, "so far the honest answer is, 'I don't think so,'" Comey said.

A member of the Woodlands Condominium Association’s board of directors that saw Mateen on Friday night when they worshiped at the Islamic Center, not far from the complex.