Before he was certified as an armed security guard; before he purchased a handgun and a Sig assault weapon; before he killed 49 people at a popular gay club in Orlando, Omar Mateen was dropped from training to be a Florida prison guard, a week after the Virginia Tech massacre, for multiple behavioral infractions — including joking about bringing a gun to school.
That was one of several revelations in a file of complaints about Mateen’s in-training behavior that Fusion obtained late Friday afternoon, in response to an open-records request made Monday. The 14-page file, embedded in its entirety below, adds further background to Mateen’s abrupt 2007 departure from the state’s training pipeline for corrections officers — and it raises further questions about how he was able to commit the Orlando murders without closer law enforcement scrutiny.
Mateen “began employment with the Department of Corrections on October 27, 2006 and was involuntarily dismissed on April 27, 2007 during his enrollment at Florida Corrections Academy located at Indian River State College,” the state Department of Corrections told Fusion in an email. “He did not complete his academic program and was not certified as a correctional officer.”
State records listed his dismissal as an “administrative termination not involving misconduct.” But the newly released records suggest that trainers and peers found Mateen’s behavior unsatisfactory on multiple fronts.
The records show that Mateen was reprimanded on more than one occasion for sleeping through training sessions:
Such infractions in military and law-enforcement recruit training programs are common. But less than a week later, Mateen again faced scrutiny for showing up late to training, then leaving without permission, his whereabouts unknown:
Mateen was evidently required to respond in writing to this and the previous allegations. “I left class without any permission due to the fact that I had a high severe fever,” he wrote.
But on the day that he left class, one of Mateen’s trainers told his superiors that the recruit had done something else far more troubling. “On April 14, 2007, while the class was given a 15-minute break,” the trainer wrote, “Omar Mateen approach[ed] me laughing saying that if he was to bring a gun to school, would I tell anybody.” The trainer added: “I looked at him and turned away.”
Two days later on April 25, Warden P.H. Skipper of the Martin Correctional Institution recommended that the state dismiss Mateen from his training program. Skipper called Mateen’s gun statement “most disturbing.”
Skipper added one more thought in his memo dismissing Mateen: “In light of recent tragic events at Virginia Tech,” Skipper wrote, “officer Mateen’s inquiry about bringing a weapon to class is at best extremely disturbing.”
The Virginia Tech massacre, which claimed 32 lives, had occurred just a week before Skipper wrote his letter.
That tragedy remained the deadliest mass-shooting in recent U.S. history, until Mateen used his guns to kill 49 people at Pulse nightclub last Sunday in Orlando.
This post has been updated to clarify that Mateen made his gun statement before the Virginia Tech tragedy; his dismissal occurred shortly after the shooting, however.