Ex-wife of Orlando shooter claims attacker was not radical but ‘mentally unstable’
The ex-wife of the alleged Orlando massacre gunman said he was violent and mentally unstable during their relationship but never expressed Islamist militant leanings.
Sitora Yusufiy spoke briefly to reporters late Sunday outside her home in Boulder, Colorado.
Yusufiy said she was awakened Sunday morning by a call from her parents to alert her to the shooting spree at a gay nightclub in Florida. Police say Omar Mateen killed 50 people before he was killed when officers stormed the building.
Yusufiy said she was in grief for the victims and their families.
She said she met Mateen through an online dating service: "In the beginning he was a normal being, who loved to joke, loved to have fun."
Within a few months of their 2009 marriage he became violently abusive toward her. Yusufiy described him as bipolar and suggested that a "history with steroids" might have been a cause of his rages.
He kept her "hostage" and isolated, before her family came to Florida an "literally rescued me ... out of his arms." She immediately flew back with them to New Jersey, her previous home, leaving all of her belongings behind.
They were together four months and have had "no contact" since, Yusufiy said. Their divorce was finalized in 2011.
"He did follow religion. He did practice, and he had his faith," she said.
But she saw "no sign" of religious radicalism in the New York-born Afghan-American.
The FBI said that Mateen called police during the three-hour nightclub standoff, talking to emergency operators about the Daesh movement.
Yusufiy, who described herself as open to all religions but not an adherent of a specific faith, insisted that Sunday's massacre was not really caused by political or religious fanaticism but rather mental illness: "Emotional instability, sickness, he was mentally unstable, ill."