A responsible gun store in South Florida contacted authorities weeks before the recent mass shooting in Orlando after gunman Omar Mateen attempted to buy body armor and bulk ammunition, The Wall Street Journal reports.
The gun store, Lotus Gunworks of Jensen Beach, Florida, reportedly “shut him down on all sales” after Mateen began asking strange questions of the shop’s personnel.
“The questions he was asking were not the normal questions a normal person would be asking… He just seemed very odd,” co-owner of Lotus Gunworks Robbie Abell told ABC News.
Abell then reported the suspicious Mateen to agents at the FBI’s West Palm Beach office.
“We gave them information and everything that took place, and that was the end of the conversation,” said Abell.
It’s not clear to what extent the FBI followed up on the tip from Lotus, if at all. But since no sale was made, the store didn’t have much to turn over except for the surveillance footage from its grainy security camera. To be clear, the store never received Mateen’s name nor his social security number.
Following the shooting that left 50 dead, including Mateen, and another 53 injured, Abell contacted the FBI once again to remind the agency of their previous run-in with the 29-year-old gunman. However, by this point in time the store’s surveillance tape had already been overwritten since Mateen’s visit back in May.
Mateen had been investigated by the FBI on multiple occasions for using inflammatory language at work, bragging about having ties to known terrorist organizations, and being linked to a suicide bomber in Syria.
Despite the series of red flags, Mateen was removed from the terrorist watchlist in 2014 after the FBI concluded its investigation, apparently believing that he was no longer a threat or there wasn’t enough evidence to keep him on the list.