The ex-wife of Orlando shooter Omar Mateen said today she was shocked by her former husband’s attack, but she recognized something deeply wrong with him years ago.
“He would be perfectly normal and happy, joking, laughing one minute -- the next minute his temper… his body would just [go] totally the opposite,” Sitora Yusufiy, 27, told ABC News. “Anger, emotionally violent and that later evolved into abuse, to beating.
“After being abused and after trying to do that and see the good in him, I can honestly say this is a sick person. This was a sick person that was really confused and went crazy,” she said.
The two had met on the social networking site Myspace in 2008 and dated for a short period before getting married. At first, life as newlyweds in Florida was normal, she said.
“He was a normal guy, joking, laughing, you know, like having fun,” she said.
Mateen was religious but not radical. Born in New York, Mateen came from an Afghan family but was “Americanized,” Yusufiy said. Yusufiy, who now lives in Colorado, is Uzbekistani but had lived in the United States for nearly a decade before the marriage.
Yusufiy said Mateen desperately wanted to be a policeman and hung out with a lot of cops, often going to the shooting range with them.
But just a few weeks into the marriage, Yusufiy said, Mateen started showing another side, one of anger and control. She said Mateen made her get a job and then took the money she made.
“It was just his personal form on control. He wanted to control me and do whatever he [could] to keep me hostage,” she said.
When he was angry, he would sometimes rant about homosexuals, Yusufiy said.
“In those moments of emotional instability, he would express his anger towards [a] certain culture, homosexuality, because in Islamic culture, it is not really tolerated, homosexuality. And I know at the time he was trying to get his life straight and follow his faith,” she said.
The abuse only came to an end when Yusufiy’s family had a dramatic falling out with Mateen’s family in 2009 and she said she was “rescued” by her parents. Records show the two were officially divorced in 2011.
Yusufiy said she had virtually no contact with Mateen since she left and cannot understand what led him to open fire on a gay nightclub in Orlando overnight, leaving 50 people dead and more than 50 others wounded. Yusufiy said that when she knew him, he didn’t have any contact with terrorist organizations.
Law enforcement officials said today that after Mateen’s assault began, he called 911 and pledged his allegiance to the Syria-based terror group ISIS.
When she walked out in 2009, Yusufiy assumed the “horrible mistake” she had made was long behind her. Mateen had tried to contact her through Facebook a year ago, she said, but she blocked him. Then she turned on the news today.
“I thought I had closed the chapter on this horrible mistake that I had gotten myself into and forgot all about it and we’re free from it. But this is the most shocking, heartbreaking experience,” she said.
Yusufiy told ABC News she wanted to speak to offer her sympathies to the grieving families, to provide as much information as she can and to say that it’s “heartbreaking for Muslims, for any people, any religion, that this happens to where one person is not stable and does something totally out of their mind and it affects entire millions of [the] population.”