As investigators and the media try to unravel the motivation behind the worst mass shooting in American history, the gunman’s father pointed to his son’s disgust during a trip to Miami earlier this year when he saw two men kissing at Bayside Marketplace.
“He saw two men kissing each other in front of his wife and kid and he got very angry,” Mir Seddique said of his son, Omar Mateen, according to NBC News. “They were kissing each other and touching each other and he said, ‘Look at that. In front of my son they are doing that.’ And then we were in the men's bathroom and men were kissing each other.”
Seddique shared the story while pushing back against speculation that radical Islam drove Mateen, 29, to open fire on a crowd of more than 100 people in an Orlando nightclub early Sunday morning. Fifty people were reported killed in what authorities are calling the worst domestic terrorism attack since the Sept. 11 attacks. News outlets reported Mateen stated his allegiance to ISIS in a 911 call before the attack.
Seddique told NBC: “This had nothing to do with religion.”
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NBC said Mateen had his last name changed from Seddique in 2006. Mateen is believed to have lived with his parents in Fort Pierce.
The father’s anecdote, if true, would add more texture to the portrait of a gunman attacking innocent Americans in a city best known for family vacations. Mateen opened fire in a well-known gay club in Orlando. The terrorist organization known as ISIS also espouses homophobic doctrine.
Seddique described to NBC a visit about two months ago to Bayside Marketplace, a retail center and downtown Miami’s most popular tourist attraction at 401 Biscayne Blvd. “We were in downtown Miami, Bayside, people were playing music,” Seddique said.
Pamela Weller, general manager for the waterfront downtown retail complex, said Sunday she was shocked to learn of an alleged nexus between the gunman and a Bayside visit. Weller said authorities have not been in touch regarding Seddique's reported comments.
“I haven’t heard from anyone,” she said.
Miami Mayor Tomás Regalado expressed skepticism at any sort of connection between Mateen’s motivations and Miami. “This happens every single day, in every part of America: two guys holding hands, or kissing, or whatnot,” he said. “How can we know? I don’t think it’s relevant to the investigation.”
This story originally appeared on MiamiHerald.com.