Fort Pierce imam says Orlando shooting suspect often came to pray with son
Omar Mateen described as loner with no friends at mosque
FORT PIERCE, Fla. – An imam at the Islamic Center of Fort Pierce, where Orlando nightclub shooting suspect Omar Mateen prayed for years, said the 29-year-old man often worshiped there with his 4-year-old son.
"He used to come here three or four times a week for the night prayers," Imam Syed Rahman told Local 10 News.
Rahman recalled seeing Mateen as recently as Friday.
"He would go straight to that corner, and he would be praying and his son would be playing around him," Rahman said.
Mateen was described as a loner with no friends at the mosque. Rahman said he was shocked to learn that Mateen had opened fire at the popular gay nightclub Pulse Orlando, killing 50 and injuring at least 53 others.
"Because he went to the police academy and then he became a security guard, so we thought he had all kinds of clearances from the authorities," Rahman said.
Mateen was a happy child but became more isolated from the community as he became an adult, Rahman said.
"It might be some psychological problem or some anger at direction with somebody because, if this is his mosque, we never promoted any kind of extremism," Rahman said. "He might be radicalized by the Internet."
Rahman said his religion emphasizes peace, so much so that their greeting, "salaam," means just that. He's troubled that the Muslim faith is once again linked to a horrific crime.
"We are all devastated by this because we have to live a life here," Rahman said. "This is our country, and then these (are) the kind of episodes that makes things very hard for us."
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