The ex-wife of the shooter at a gay Florida nightclub says the man enjoyed nightlife, but she's not sure if he had any homosexual tendencies.
"When we had gotten married, he confessed to me about his past ... that he very much enjoyed going to clubs and the nightlife, and there was a lot of pictures of him," Sitora Yusufiy told CNN Tuesday from Denver. "I feel like it's a side of him or a part of him that he lived, but probably didn't want everybody to know about."
The comments follow reports from customers at the gay nightclub that shooter Omar Mateen was seen there regularly. One told The Associated Press that Mateen tried to pick up men there.
A high school acquaintance of the gunman in Sunday’s mass shooting in Orlando said Omar Mateen was a “regular dude” until the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
"He started acting crazy, joking around the fact that 9/11 happened, making plane noises on the school bus and pretending he was slamming into the building," said Robert Zirkle, who rode the school bus every day with Mateen in Stuart, Fla., 15 years ago.
"He was happy that Americans were dying. He made that very clear. I don’t know if he was always a Muslim radical, but he was excited, hyped up. We were all, like, 'What are you talking about?'" Zirkle recalled.
CNN reporter and anchor Anderson Cooper had trouble making it through a reading of the names of the 49 victims of Sunday's shooting in a gay nightclub in Orlando -- his voice breaking with emotion as he recited the list of the dead.
Cooper, one of the few openly gay major television news personalities, made a point of refusing to name the gunman who carried out the massacre, 29-year-old former security guard Omar Mateen.
“We begin tonight with their names, the names of the 48 out of 49 people who have so far been identified, victims of the deadliest mass shooting in American history," Anderson began.
Church bells tolled 49 times, once for each of the dead, as thousands of people gathered in downtown Orlando Monday night to mourn.
The crowd hoisted rainbow flags on the lawn outside the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts, where community leaders -- Muslim, LGBT and Latino -- spoke about the Sunday morning massacre at Pulse, a gay nightclub.
Brittany Torres, 18, made a sign honoring two friends killed in the shooting: Oscar Aracena and Simon Adrian Carillo.
Thousands gathered in downtown Orlando late Monday to mourn those killed in a deadly shooting at a nearby gay nightclub, listening as church bells tolled 49 times in honor of the victims.
Hoisting rainbow signs and flags on the lawn outside the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts, the crowd heard from Muslim, LGBT and Latino community leaders, and others affected by the Sunday morning attack on Pulse nightclub.
Brittany Torres, 18, of Orlando had made a sign honoring two friends killed in the shooting: Simon Adrian Carrillo Fernandez and Oscar Aracena-Montero, who had been her manager when she worked at McDonald's. As she talked about the way he encouraged her to succeed, Torres started to cry.
White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest announced Monday night that President Obama will travel to Orlando, Fla., on Thursday "to pay his respects to victims' families, and to stand in solidarity with the community as they embark on their recovery." No more details were available. Obama spoke on the shooting earlier Monday in the Oval Office:
Sitora Yusufiy looked nervous in her CNN interview as host Erin Burnett asked her why she thought her ex-husband had frequented the gay club Pulse before his attack there Sunday.
"When we had gotten married, he confessed to me about his past -- that was recent at that time -- and that he very much enjoyed going to clubs and the nightlife," said Yusufiy, who divorced Omar Mateen in 2011 and said he was abusive and unstable. "So, I feel like it's a side of him or a part of him that he lived but probably didn't want everybody to know about."
At a seniors’ center not far from the Pulse nightclub, families of victims were being summoned and, in most cases, given the formal notice that their child or sibling was among the dead.
They would file in, as couples clinging onto each other desperately, or in larger groups of extended relatives, passing under a large awning that read “Welcome,” and next to a hand-lettered sign saying “Pulse families.”
Hours later they would leave, some sobbing, embracing or rushing away. A black funeral parlor van arrived at one point.