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FBI Investigates Whether Omar Mateen Visited Pulse Before Massacre

"That's not his first time there," a regular customer at the club said. "He's been there several times. I know that for a fact."
Omar Mateen, the gunman in the Orlando nightclub massacre, poses in an image from his MySpace page.MySpace via AFP - Getty Images

The FBI is looking into the possibility that Omar Mateen visited Pulse nightclub and tried to communicate with some of its patrons on a gay dating app before he gunned down 49 people there, authorities told NBC News.

Cord Cedeno, a customer at the Orlando club, told MSNBC on Monday that Mateen tried to get in contact with him through Grindr, a dating application for gay and bisexual men — but that he blocked Mateen "because he was creepy."

Cedeno said that after Mateen killed 49 people and wounded 53 others at Pulse early Sunday, "I recognized him off Grindr." Mateen, 29, was killed in a shootout with police after a three-hour standoff.

"That's not his first time there," Cedeno said. "He's been there several times. I know that for a fact."

An FBI official told NBC News that investigators are reviewing similar reports, as well as statements by members of Orlando's gay community who said they recall having seen Mateen at the LGBT club several times.

Grindr confirmed it has been in touch with investigators but declined to divulge any details.

"We will continue to cooperate with the authorities and do not comment on ongoing investigations," a spokesman said.

At least four regular customers of Pulse told the Orlando Sentinel on Monday they had seen Mateen there before. One of them, Ty Smith, told the newspaper he had seen him there at least a dozen times.

"Sometimes he would go over in the corner and sit and drink by himself, and other times he would get so drunk he was loud and belligerent," Smith told the newspaper.

Kevin West, another frequent patron of the club, told the Los Angeles Times that Mateen had messaged him via the gay dating app Jack'd over the course of a year. They met only one, by chance: Sunday morning.

West told the newspaper he was dropping off a friend at the nightclub when he saw Mateen — a man he recognized but didn't know by name — crossing the street with a cellphone and wearing a dark cap about 1 a.m., roughly an hour before the carnage began.

"He walked directly past me. I said, 'Hey,' and he turned and said, 'Hey,' and nodded his head," West told the newspaper. "I could tell by the eyes."