Gun vendors said the Orlando shooter Omar Mateen attempted to buy a heavy-duty body armor, weeks before he carried out a terror attack and killed 49 in the gay club Pulse. The Federal Bureau of Investigation was informed about the “very suspicious man” after he visited the store.

The event occurred at Lotus Gunworks in Jensen Beach, Florida, about five or six weeks ago. Mateen reportedly asked for ammunition in bulk, after making a call in a foreign language. Employees refused to sell him body armor rated IIIA, saying it was not available in the store.

Orlando shooter wanted to buy body armor
Officials are seen outside Pulse nightclub evaluating the site. Credit:

Mateen was repelled by a warehouse clerk, who felt uncomfortable about the situation, according to Robert Abell, co-owner of the Lotus Gunworks store, who spoke with ABC News. Staff members then contacted an FBI office in West Palm Beach, to advise about “a very suspicious” man.

Lotus Gunworks was not able to obtain the name of the future attacker because they decided to reject his purchase. The FBI did not call back to ask for further information, while officials never visited the store. “He slipped through the cracks,” Abell told ABC News.

“The questions he was asking [about body armor] were not the normal questions a normal person would be asking. If something is suspicious, it’s our discretion. We are the gatekeeper,” Abell told The Wall Street Journal.

FBI is trying to collect all pieces of the story: Mateen apparently obtained weapons from St. Lucie Shooting Center

On June 12, Mateen headed to Pulse gay club in Orlando, where he conducted a massive shooting. The attack left 49 people dead and 53 injured. According to FBI officials he had been investigated before, for having suspicious links with individuals related to terrorism.

Ed Henson, owner of St. Lucie Shooting Center, told the Journal that Mateen probably visited his store twice. He apparently obtained a long gun and a pistol. The FBI reported he used a .223 SIG Sauer semiautomatic rifle at the attack.

Mateen had apparently picked out other nightclubs in Orlando. However, Pulse was his defined target, according to FBI Assistant Special Agent Ronald Hopper. The latter has classified the unexpected event as a terror attack, as well as a hate crime.

Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer told the Journal that Mateen visited a few places after he left home, although his night ended at the gay club. Mr. Dyer said he has no further information about where he went before carrying out the attack.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation determined in 2013 and 2014 that Mateen was not a threat after he related with people believed to have links with terror organizations. FBI Director James Comey has encouraged people to contact agents if they observe something suspicious.

Mr. Comey remarked that every time, “someone sees something they should have told us, and they didn’t.” The FBI’s counterterrorism division said that Mateen made a Facebook on early Sunday, saying the United States would see attacks from the Islamic State, according to ABC News.

Source: ABC News