Omar Mateen, the Orlando nightclub attacker, grew up in a home frought with violence, with his mother accused of beating her husband during their many fights, according to reports published Saturday shedding new light on what may have helped spark the massacre.
Police had arrested Mateen’s mother, Shahla, on charges of domestic violence in 2002, police records show. Speaking to the Daily Beast, a former Walgreens coworker, Becky Diefendorf, described Shahla as “paranoid.”
Officers said they arrested Shahla after she and her husband had a heated argument that ended with her pulling his hair and pinching him so hard that it left a mark. According to the police report, her husband claimed she’d beat him before.
The husband, Seddique Mateen, reportedly never pressed charges. Omar Mateen was 16 at the time. After the massacre, the killer’s ex-wife said he himself abused her.
Both parents came to the U.S. from Afghanistan. Omar Mateen was born in New York before the family moved to Florida.
Seddique, who announced a run for president of Afghanistan last year, has released a series of odd videos on YouTube. In some, he praises the Taliban and decries Pakistan.
Diefendorf said Shahla often alluded to her family’s turmoil. “She would just come at me and say, ‘I have to go, family problem,’ and leave.”
Omar Mateen had three sisters and no brothers. People who knew him said he often seemed conflicted about his Muslim faith.
“I do remember the teachers at the school wanting to get him help desperately, as he was just such an angry kid,” former elementary school classmate William Winkler told The Washington Post. He said Mateen bullied girls — and his father had little respect for the school’s female teachers.
School records from Martin County, Florida show Mateen attended three schools there, including time at an alternative school. The records show at least some of the suspensions were for fighting that involved injuries. Other suspensions were for unspecified rules violations.
Mateen attended high school and part of middle school in Martin County. He attended elementary and early middle school in neighboring St. Lucie County, where teachers regularly found him disruptive and struggling academically because of a lack of focus.
Records show Mateen withdrew from Martin County High School in 2003 and eventually graduated from Stuart Adult Community High School with a standard diploma.
The Pulse Nightclub attack last weekend killed at least 49 people and wounded more than 50 others, investigators said.