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“I don’t really know if he was doing it because he was being taught some stuff at home or just doing it for attention because he didn’t have a lot of friends. We weren’t really close friends, but friends at least a little,” he said. It was almost like surreal how happy he was about what had happened to us.” The former student said Mateen stood up after the second tower was hit and claimed that Osama bin Laden was his uncle. He said he shot them, and his uncle taught him how to shoot them.” The ex-classmate spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear that business clients would find out that he attended a school for poorly behaving students. In a Facebook post, another student similarly described Mateen’s standing up and cheering on 9/11.
“After 9/11 happened, he started changing and acting different.” At the time, Mateen was attending the Spectrum alternative school, a campus in Stuart, Fla., for students with behavioral issues. “Back then, we didn’t even really know who Osama bin Laden was,” the classmate said. A third classmate said he remembers Mateen’s actions that day because both of them were sent to the dean’s office at the same time for acting out when the towers were hit.
His unusual behavior that day was also corroborated by other classmates in public posts on Facebook.
The Martin County School District referred all questions about Mateen’s time as a student to the FBI.
“I never forget a face.” Later that night, Mateen killed 49 people inside the gay nightclub in Orlando in the worst mass shooting in U. Cord Cedeno said he had also seen Mateen inside Pulse before, standing at the bar with a drink.
“He was open with his picture on the sites, he was easy to recognize,” said Cedeno, 23, of Orlando, who said he was also contacted by Mateen at least a year ago on a dating app.
“I never heard about him doing anything like that,” said Winstanley, who attended school with Mateen from grades six through 10. “Omar explained the Muslim religion to me,” Winstanley said. It was just some of the things his culture does, the food they eat.
11, 2001, when they were watching the attack on the World Trade Center unfold on live TV.
Four classmates said Mateen cheered and made mocking comments, which got him pulled from class and might have led to his departure from the school.
One former student who was sitting in the same class as Mateen said he remembers the morning of 9/11 clearly: “Teachers said, ‘Turn on the TV.’ We see the one plane hit. That third student spoke on the condition of anonymity because he feared being bombarded by media requests.
“I was sleeping in class and woke up to see people jumping off buildings, so I started swearing and they sent me up,” the former student said.But such memories don’t fit with those of Kenneth Winstanley, a friend of Mateen’s in junior high and high school, who said he did not recall Mateen celebrating the Sept.