Orlando gunman's ex-wife describes him as abusive and anti-gay

Killer's ex-wife now lives in Colorado
Posted at 9:39 PM, Jun 12, 2016
and last updated 2016-06-13 12:48:34-04

The ex-wife of Orlando mass shooter Omar Mateen told Denver7 Investigates he was violent, unstable and anti-gay.

“I can just honestly say that this was a sick person. This was a sick person that was really confused,” Sitora Yusufiy said from her Boulder home Sunday.

Yusufiy answered questions from FBI agents in the hours after the gunfire.

She sat down with Denver7’s chief investigative reporter Tony Kovaleski after word broke her ex-husband Mateen murdered 49 people in a gay nightclub in the largest mass shooting in American history before dying in a gunfight with police.

“He would be perfectly normal and happy joking laughing one minute and the next minute his temper, like his body, he'd be totally opposite, you know angered and emotional, violent,” Yusufiy said.

She said she never knew Mateen to have any ties to terrorist organizations during their relationship. He did make numerous remarks indicating his anger toward gays.

“There was definitely moments where he expressed his intolerance toward homosexuals,” Yusufiy said.

Yusufiy said she was young when she met Mateen on MySpace and decided to move to Florida to marry him in 2009. She is Uzbekistani but had been living in the U.S. for nearly a decade when she met Mateen. 

“I guess he wanted to control me and do whatever he [could] to keep me hostage,” she said. “He wouldn't allow me to speak to my family, he would beat me as I would try to call them,” she said.

Mateen worked as a security guard, and Yusufiy said he carried and gun and hoped to become a police officer.

“A lot of his friends were actually police officers,” she said.

Yusufiy said she never called the police during Mateen’s violent outbursts. She did tell her parents about the abuse and they helped her escape. Yusufiy said she had not spoken to her ex in years, and she moved to Colorado to live with her fiancé.

The former wife told reporters it shook her when she woke up to the horrifying news Sunday morning Mateen had opened fire inside a crowded nightclub and pledged allegiance to ISIS during the attack. She decided to share her story to express her sympathy to the victims and their families.

“I just want them to know that I'm deeply sorry that this happened. And I pray as much as I can for the souls to be at peace, for the families to heal,” she said.