Gun store denied Orlando shooter before attack, told FBI
(WJBK) - A Florida gun store owner says his employees refused to sell to the Orlando nightclub gunman before the attack. The Florida gun store owner noticed several red flags right away -- and alerted the FBI. But, there was never an investigation, and Omar Mateen slipped through the cracks.
The store manager of Lotus Gunworks in Jensen Beach claims they turned Mateen away five weeks ago after he came in and asked to purchase level 3 body armor, which stops a handgun round or knife and bulk ammo.
Mateen then called someone on the phone and began speaking in Arabic. Robert Abell says that's when the salesman became suspicious.
"He just made the mistake of asking for an armor that wasn't normal," he said. "And then on the phone conversation was another key that you might need to step back and look at this. Our guy made the right decision at the time. I'm not selling him anything.
Abell says they denied the sale, which they have the right to do. But before they could get his name and information, Mateen left the store.
The gun shop owner says they immediately alerted the FBI about the suspicious man who wanted to purchase body armor. But the feds never followed up and visited the store.
That was it, until last Sunday morning when Abell and his employees recognized the images of Omar Mateen - who was identified as the Orlando shooter. Forty-nine people and dozens more were injured when authorities say Mateen shot up the Orlando gay night club Pulse.
"We're the watch dogs for them, and we constantly report it and we take that seriously," he said. "We couldn't do more. Here's a prime example of trying to do the right thing and we got so close to it, but unfortunately he slipped through the cracks."
Mateen did legally purchase the long gun and handgun he used in the attack from another store, but was not wearing body armor at the time of the shooting.