Omar Mateen lasted just seven months as state prison guard


Before he was a security guard, before he secured a state license to carry guns to work, Omar Mateen bounced through a series of retail jobs: A Palm Bay Publix in 2002, when he was still in high school; a now-defunct Circuit City the following year; then stints at Walgreen’s, Chick-fil-A, two nutrition stores and a gym until 2006, when he seemed to settle on a law enforcement career.

That year, he received an associate’s degree in criminal justice technology from Indian River State College and in October started work as a corrections officer at Martin Correctional Institute, Florida’s 1,509-bed state prison complex for men.

The following February, state records show, Mateen also was enrolled in a corrections class at Indian River State College where he got a D. College officials declined to elaborate on Mateen’s studies beyond his 2006 degree.

The prison job didn’t last long. Just about seven months after starting, records obtained by The Palm Beach Post show Mateen was “administratively dismissed.”

It’s unclear whether the termination involved misconduct. A spokesman for the Florida Department of Corrections said only that the agency was “still gathering information” on his work history.

Whatever the reason, it didn’t stop Mateen from getting a Florida state-issued security guard license and a security guard firearms license that same year.

Mateen held both a “B” security guard license, and a “G” security guard firearms license, which enabled him to carry two guns specified by the state at any single time.

Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, whose office issues the licenses, said nothing in Mateen’s background disqualified him from the work.

“He successfully completed the application, had a criminal background check and there is nothing in that record that would have disqualified this individual who is a U.S. citizen who had a clean criminal record … from receiving those licenses,” Putnam said at a Monday news conference.

Florida’s security guard firearms licensing application asks about mental illness and criminal history, but not whether the applicant was ever investigated for terrorist ties.

By last year, when his licenses were renewed, Mateen had twice been the subject of an FBI inquiry.

Putnam wouldn’t talk about any exchange his office may have had with federal investigators over the years.

Putnam also refused to make Mateen’s application paperwork public. Normally, applications are a public record under Florida law. But, said Putnam, the licensing paperwork includes information that could help investigators.

“It’s fairly rich with data,” he said.

In 2007, that license enabled Mateen to start work for global security giant G4S. There, he at one point helped screen for weapons at the St. Lucie County courthouse, according to a former co-worker.

But Mateen clearly wanted to be in law enforcement, not security, and in 2011, he took the state’s basic abilities test to become a law enforcement officer.

He failed the exam.

Staff writers Andrew Marra and Lawrence Mower contributed to this story.



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