News and Public Media for North Central Florida
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Putnam: Orlando Gunman Cleared Background Checks

Orlando Police officers direct family members away from a fatal shooting at Pulse Orlando nightclub in Orlando, Fla., Sunday, June 12, 2016. (Phelan M. Ebenhack/Associated Press)
Orlando Police officers direct family members away from a fatal shooting at Pulse Orlando nightclub in Orlando, Fla., Sunday, June 12, 2016. (Phelan M. Ebenhack/Associated Press)

The gunman who carried out a massacre early Sunday in an Orlando nightclub passed all of the legally required background checks for his weapons, Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam told reporters Monday.

Omar Mateen, a 29-year-old St. Lucie County resident, had a clean criminal record, passed a mental-health screening to get a security guard job, lawfully purchased guns from a licensed dealer and abided by the state's three-day waiting period to complete the purchase of guns, Putnam said.

"He held a 'D' license, as well as a 'G' license, which means that he is a security guard and a security guard who is permitted to carry a firearm," Putnam said of Mateen, who was killed by local law enforcement after the attack at the Pulse gay nightclub.

"All of the information related to his application to receive those licenses was in order," Putnam continued. "He was fingerprinted. He successfully completed the application, had a criminal background check. There is nothing in that record that would have disqualified this individual, who was a U.S. citizen, who had a clean criminal record, who underwent a background check and mental-health screening."

Mateen's licenses were valid through 2017.

Putnam runs the state Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, which oversees weapons permits in Florida. The department hasn't released Mateen's application paperwork.

Putnam addressed the media after a meeting at the state Emergency Operations Center.

Gov. Rick Scott has labeled the mass murder at the nightclub --- at least 49 victims were killed and 53 others wounded --- as a "terror attack." Putnam called it a "man-made disaster, rooted in hate, rooted in terrorist ideologies."

Mateen, who federal officials say purchased two guns, including an assault rifle, within the past week, worked for G4S, a global security company with offices in Jupiter. He had been with the company since 2007, the same year Mateen applied for his first weapons permit.

News reports said Mateen, U.S.-born to immigrants from Afghanistan, had come to the attention of federal authorities in 2013 and 2014, but no case was ever produced. During the shooting early Sunday, he pledged allegiance to the Islamic State terrorist group, authorities said.

Putnam said his agency is working with the FBI, along with state and federal law enforcement to "coordinate the appropriate timing of the release of those records."

Putnam objected to a characterization that the FBI was blocking the release of the records.

"There is information in those records that is relevant to the ongoing investigation," Putnam said.

Asked about the need for legislation that would impose restrictions on assault rifles or gun rights, Putnam instead discussed the ability of people hiding "an ideology so dark, that they're capable of using the freedoms and liberties that this country awards all our citizens for the darkest possible motives."

Putnam said his agency is working with Volunteer Florida to create a central type of organization to assist people who want to donate to charities in the wake of the shooting.

"It is fairly common in the aftermath of a tragic event like this for people to further prey on good-hearted people's emotions and rip them off by creating a charity that has no intention of sending the money to the victims or victims' families or anything related to the incident," Putnam said.

The News Service of Florida is a wire service to which WUFT News subscribes.