Orlando shooter Omar Mateen, who massacred 49 people at Pulse nightclub on Sunday, was reported to the FBI weeks before the rampage after acting suspiciously at a gun store.
Mateen tried purchasing body armour and 1,000 rounds of ammunition five weeks before the attack according to the manager of a gun store in Florida.
Robert Abell, co-owner of Lotus Gunworks in Jensen Beach, said Mateen left empty-handed and that the shop alerted the FBI, but since no sale was made, the shop did not check the man’s ID and had no name to give the authorities.
“Our intuition was correct and it’s just, it’s very sad that we had him that close, he was that close that law enforcement could have got their hands on him,” said Abell.
“It’s the sickest feeling you could ever have to your stomach.
“That was him, he’s here – if you don’t think we’re compassionate – there’s nothing more heartbreaking. Innocent people died for no reason.
“It’s just how could it have been prevented?”
Abell says the shop declined the sale because the customer raised suspicions by requesting a high grade of body armour typically used by law enforcement.
Abell says store staff realised the customer was nightclub shooter Omar Mateen only after seeing reports about the carnage in Orlando.