Suit claims Jupiter firm trained Pulse shooter, ignored warnings

Palm Beach Post |

--WEST PALM BEACH -- A Jupiter-based security company this week was slapped with what is expected to be a multi-million-dollar lawsuit that claims it ignored obvious warning signs that Pulse nightclub killer Omar Mateen was unfit to be a security guard and instead continued to train him to use high-powered weapons.

Not only did G4S Secure Solutions ignore complaints from Mateen's co-workers that he was unhinged, angry and repeatedly professed admiration for Islamic extremists and mass killers, but famed Stuart attorney Willie Gary claims it faked documentation that allowed him to obtain a security firearms license.

Had G4S properly monitored Mateen before and after he was hired as a security guard in , what was then the largest mass shooting in U.S. history may have been averted, Gary said in the lawsuit filed Monday in Palm Beach County Circuit Court.

The suit was filed one the eve of the second anniversary of the massacre at the Orlando night club that claimed the lives 49 people and left at least 53 wounded. Mateen, 29, was shot dead by Orlando police after a three-hour stand-off.

As part of the lawsuit filed on behalf of the mother of 32-year-old Orlando resident Deonka Deidra Drayton, who was fatally shot during Mateen's rampage, Gary is also suing the nightclub. He claims it failed to provide adequate security or sufficient exits for patrons to flee once gunshots rang out. The families of several Pulse victims filed similar suits against the nightclub and Orlando police in Orange County this week.

G4S officials didn't immediately respond to an email and phone call about Gary's allegations. Days after the shooting that occurred on "Latin Night" at the gay nightclub, company officials insisted Mateen passed rigorous security checks. At the time of the Pulse shooting he was working at PGA Village, a gated community in Port St. Lucie, not far from his home in Fort Pierce.

"Mateen was subject to detailed company screening when he was recruited in 2007 and re-screened in 2013 with no adverse findings," it said in a 2016 statement. "He was also subject to checks by a U.S. law enforcement agency with no findings reported to G4S."

However, in the lawsuit filed on behalf of grieving South Carolina mother Andrea Anita Drayton, Gary claims the company received numerous complaints about Mateen. Yet, he said, company officials never reported Mateen's questionable behavior to the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, which issued a permit that allowed Mateen to carry concealed weapons along with giving him the security firearms permit.

"Had the state of Florida, at any time prior to June of 2016, been appropriately advised of these incidents, it may have resulted in the revocation of Mateen's security firearms license or other corrective action that would have saved many from death, or trauma," he wrote.

A week before the shooting, Mateen used his security firearms license to convince a gun dealer to sell him a semi-automatic rifle and Glock 17 handgun that he used in the attack, Gary said.

He might not have gotten the guns had G4S officials acted on concerns about Mateen's strange rants and bizarre behavior, Gary said.

In 2013, while working at the St. Lucie County Courthouse, Mateen repeatedly threatened his colleagues, Gary said. He bragged that he was associated with the Boston Marathon bombers and had connections to Al Qaeda and Hezbollah. He praised the U.S. Army major who in 2014 shot some 40 people at Fort Hood in Texas. Mateen said he hoped police would raid his home so he could "martyr" himself, Gary wrote.

After Mateen made equally inflammatory statements to a St. Lucie County sheriff's deputy, the agency reported its concerns to G4S and asked that he be removed from the security detail at the courthouse.

But instead of assessing Mateen's fitness for duty, "G4S continued to provide Mateen with yearly firearms training to maintain his Class G firearms license," which made him a far more proficient shooter, Gary wrote.

And, Gary claims, St. Lucie sheriff's deputies weren't the only ones to voice concerns. After Mateen was reassigned to a new location, a co-worker told higher-ups he, too, was worried about Mateen, Gary said. Still, nothing was done.

Even before Mateen was hired there were warning signs, Gary claims. In 2006, Mateen was dismissed from a training course for the Florida Department of Corrections after threatening to bring a gun to class, Gary wrote.

"Upon information and belief, before employing Matten as an armed security guard, G4S knew of his dismissal by the Florida Department of Corrections and of Mateen's propensity to carry weapons into unauthorized locations," he wrote.

Even knowing his background, G4S did nothing to assure Mateen was psychologically fit. As it did in countless other cases, it faked documents it sent to the agriculture department, showing Mateen had passed psychological tests, Gary wrote.

The psychologist, Carol Nudelman, who signed off on Mateen's assessment, never evaluated Mateen and didn't sign the forms, he said. In fact, Nudelman wasn't living in Florida and had closed her practice two years before the evaluation was supposedly administered.

Mateen's phony forms were among 1,514 submitted to the state agency from 2006 and 2016. The state ultimately slapped G4S with a $151,000 fine for falsely claiming Nudelman had signed off on psychological tests, according to multiple news reports. It was said to be the largest administrative fine levied against a security company by Florida.


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