Orlando gunman Omar Mateen was kicked out of prison guard school for gun joke

  • PTI, New York
  • Updated: Jun 20, 2016 00:57 IST
An undated photo from a social media account of Omar Mateen. (Reuters)

Orlando gay nightclub gunman Omar Mateen was dismissed from a prison guard training programme in 2007, days after the Virginia Tech massacre, for joking about bringing a gun to class.

In 2007, the Department of Corrections employed Mateen and financed his schooling at Indian River State College to become an officer. But it lasted only six months.

Mateen, who was killed by police after his attack on Pulse nightclub, was removed from the Florida Department of Correction’s Criminal Justice Training Institute on April 27, 2007, for sleeping in class and making “extremely disturbing” comments about weapons, according to records obtained by the Palm Beach Post.

Another recruit in the prison guard programme informed Mateen’s teachers about his twisted joke -- which he made just two days before a gunman killed 32 people on the Virginia Tech campus.

“On April 14, 2007 while the class was given a 15-minute break, Omar Mateen approached me laughing saying that if he was to bring a gun to school would I tell anybody,” the trainee wrote. “I looked at him and turned away”.

The concerned student filed the report on April 23, days after the April 16 Virginia shooting. The chilling timing of the joke -- and Mateen’s habits of dozing off in class and skipping school -- prompted the warden of the Martin Correctional Institution to kick Mateen from the programme.

“In light of recent tragic events at Virginia Tech, officer Mateen’s inquiry about bringing a weapon to class is at best extremely disturbing,” Warden PH Skipper wrote. “I am recommending probationary dismissal on recruit Omar Mateen.”

In the dismissal recommendation, Skipper also said Mateen had two write-ups in his file for napping during shooting range practice and even more undocumented incidents.

“While my squad was in the back (at the shooting range) and it was not out turn, I dozed off in the lounge chair about two times,” Mateen wrote in a letter to a teacher, according to the documents released Friday.

Skipper mentioned that the troubled recruit once skipped class entirely. Mateen wrote a letter explaining he ditched school because he developed a fever and went home to rest, the New York Daily News reported.

“The mistake I made was that I did not tell any instructor of the situation,” Mateen wrote.

The Virginia Tech massacre was the US’ deadliest mass shooting before Mateen’s rampage at an Orlando nightclub last Sunday, killing 49 people and wounding 53 others. Nine years earlier, a senior at the school in Blacksburg, Virginia, had shot and killed 32 people.

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