One of the worst shooting massacres in the recent history hits home on St. Lucie County Sheriff Ken Mascara’s watch.
He’s among the millions of people also wondering how the shooting massacre in Orlando could have been prevented.
The sheriff explained how Omar Mateen had been on his radar in the past.
In 2013, Mascara confirms that Mateen had been investigated by the FBI following complaints about his behavior at the St. Lucie County Courthouse.
Mateen was contracted through G4S Secure Solutions to do security at the courthouse.
His G4S coworkers complained to authorities in 2013 about racist comments he would make. Mascara said those complaints were unsubstantiated, but deputies also complained, adding weight to the concerns.
“Those comments involved derogatory comments about women, about Jews, and referenced, on occasion, that the Fort Hood shooter was justified in his actions because he was aware that the person was picked on by other Army personnel,” Mascara said.
The courthouse supervisor first requested that G4S management transfer Mateen out of the courthouse rotation permanently. That was immediately granted, Mascara said.
The St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Office notified the FBI.
“When they reported back to us that they couldn’t confirm any threat that this young man posed to our community, we felt confident in their ability to investigate it,” Mascara said.
The sheriff also said the FBI did not tell local authorities that there was a need to monitor Mateen.
“Do you feel like there was more information [the FBI] could have given you”
“Maybe. Correct,” Mascara said.
Mascara says he is in touch with the FBI regularly. Now, he is working with them to make sure there are no other local threats.
That includes investigating the Islamic Center of Fort Pierce. FBI agents have been to the mosque since the Orlando shooting.
“The mosque does concern us because the mosque has produced two terrorists that visited that mosque. That is a discussion we are going to have with the FBI as well as in our agency and our local partners,” Mascara said.
He hopes there could be an even stronger line of communication with the FBI to local law enforcement agencies following this shooting.
“If in fact the FBI has someone who has crossed their radar screen, someone who has given rise to an investigation even though it might be inconclusive, that person should be checked pretty regularly,” Mascara said.
Mascara recalls getting a phone call from the FBI around 5 A.M Sunday morning, telling him about the shooting and the shooter who was tied to Mascara’s county.
He immediately recognized Mateen’s face from the courthouse, and says he also knew Mateen’s father, an insurance salesman in the area.
Mascara joined more than 100 people to pray for the victims in a mixed-religion vigil Tuesday in Tradition.