Several victims of the 2016 Pulse nightclub mass shooting in Orlando and their family members are asking a Florida appeals court to revive their case against the Jupiter, Florida-based security firm that employed and trained the killer.
The 30 appellants, including four estates of victims killed in the attack, allege that G4S Secure Solutions should have known there was a “deranged person … within their employment” and halted his annual firearms training and revoked his security license.
Omar Mateen, a 29-year-old U.S.-born man of Afghani descent, drove two hours north of his home to Orlando on June 12, 2016, and entered the Pulse nightclub with a fully loaded semi-automatic rifle and pistol. He shot and killed 49 people inside the club and injured more than 50 others.
The Pulse nightclub attack was the deadliest act of terrorism in the U.S. since the 9-11 attacks in 2001 and remained so until the following year when another American man killed 58 people and injured nearly 900 others in Las Vegas from his room at the Mandalay Bay.
Incredibly, Mr. Mateen’s statements and behavior continually raised suspicions for years before the Pulse nightclub attack. According to Courthouse News Service, the FBI interviewed Mr. Mateen in 2013 about statements he made while working as a G4S security guard at the St. Lucie courthouse.
“Among those statements, he allegedly claimed ties to terrorist groups, threatened to have a deputy killed, praised an Islamic terrorist and said he hoped to die as a martyr,” Courthouse News Service reported.
Instead of responding to those red flags appropriately, the appellants allege, G4S transferred him to a community security detail, where his disturbing conduct and bigoted statements continued.
A lower court ruled against the plaintiffs, finding no evidence that G4S “had any direction or control over Mateen at the time of this tragic event” and that his Class G security license had “no bearing on [his] legal ability to purchase a firearm.”
The decision created a rift in the original litigation, with a portion of the plaintiffs withdrawing from the trial court case to have their claims against GS4 heard by Florida’s Fourth District Court of Appeal.
Plaintiffs in the Pulse nightclub case also say that Mr. Mateen was turned away from purchasing weapons at one gun shop because his suspicious behavior alarmed the staff, which reported him to federal authorities.
The plaintiffs also noted that GS4 rubberstamped Mr. Mateen’s outdated pre-employment psychological evaluation with the name of a psychologist who never reviewed the files and didn’t work for G4S as further evidence the company could have potentially prevented the mass shooting had it not neglected to heed all the warnings.