In an exclusive interview with Univision News, a man has stepped forward claiming he had a sexual relationship with Omar Mateen, the man who killed 49 people in an Orlando night club.
“I’ve cried like you have no idea,” the man told Univision News anchor Maria Elena Salinas. “But the thing that makes me want to tell the truth is that he didn’t do it for terrorism. In my opinion he did it for revenge.”
The man, who Univision (Fusion’s parent company) is calling “Miguel,” said that he met Mateen on the gay dating app Grindr. He claimed the two met 15 to 20 times over two months before the relationship ended last December, when Miguel moved away from Orlando.
Miguel described their relationship as “friends with benefits,” and said that Mateen was “100 percent” gay, Univision reported. He said he was shocked to hear Mateen was the shooter, and described him as “affectionate” and “sweet.” Mateen loved to be cuddled, Miguel added.
He also told Univision that Mateen’s rage about Puerto Rican gay men might have stemmed from a sexual incident in which Mateen had sex with two Puerto Rican men, one of whom later revealed that he was HIV positive.
“He adored Latinos, gay Latinos, with brown skin—but he felt rejected,” Miguel said. “He felt used by them—there were moments in the Pulse nightclub that made him feel really bad. Guys used him. That really affected him.”
Mateen was “terrified” of being HIV positive, Miguel said.
“When I asked him what he was going to do now, his answer was ‘I’m going to make them pay for what they did to me,'” he added.
The FBI confirmed to Univision that they have interviewed the man.
Fusion has not been able to independently confirm Miguel’s statements.
The attack, which took place during the gay club Pulse’s Latino night, was the worst mass shooting in modern American history.
This isn’t the first time someone has suggested Mateen was gay. Several men have previously told reporters that they remembered seeing Mateen on gay dating apps and that he had been seen on multiple occasions at Pulse nightclub.
An ex-wife of Mateen, Sitora Yusufiy, has also speculated that the shooter may have been gay. “He might have been homosexual himself and lived that lifestyle but could never ever come clean about it because of the standards of his father, because of the obligation to be a perfect son,” she told Time.
Miguel’s statements further complicate the debate over Mateen’s motivations in the Orlando attack, which has consumed the media and national politics over the last week and a half. It’s still unclear whether Mateen’s rampage was inspired by Islamic extremism, homophobia, a personal desire for revenge, or some combination of the three. But Miguel’s story is a shocking twist and—if believed—adds an important new layer to our understanding of the man behind the murders.