BOULDER, Colo. — The ex-wife of the man who killed 50 and wounded 53 others in what became the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history spoke to the media Sunday afternoon to share her feelings on the tragedy and her past with the shooter.
Sitoria Yusufiy described her shock at hearing about the shooting, committed by her ex-husband, Omar Mateen.
“I was devastated, shocked. I started shaking and crying because more than anything, I was so deeply hurt and heartbroken for the people that lost their loved ones,” she said.
The two met online and were married in 2009. She moved to Florida to be with Mateen, who worked as a corrections officer at a juvenile delinquent center. She said Mateen owned a gun and practiced at shooting ranges, with dreams of becoming a policeman.
Yusufiy said their relationship was normal at first, but after a few months, it took a dark, violent turn.
“A few months after we were married, I saw his instability and I saw that he was bipolar and that he would get mad out of nowhere. That’s when I started worrying about my safety,” she said.
She said he often would beat her and wouldn’t let her speak to her family.
“When he would get angry, he would express anger toward things, toward everything,” Yusufiy said.
She left him after four months, rescued quite literally by her parents.
“They had to pull me out of his arms and buy an emergency flight. I left all of my belongings,” she said.
The divorce was finalized in 2011, and that’s the last time they spoke. She has no idea what he has been doing since.
She said Mateen always disliked gay people, referring to the possibility of the shooting being a hate crime, and that he was religious, but she said that’s not why this happened.
“He was mentally unstable and mentally ill. That’s the only explanation that I can give and he was obviously disturbed,” she said. “I hear the media trying to make this about Islam but it’s just about imbalance.”
Her new fiance, Marcio Dias, said there’s something to learn from the tragedy.
“Let’s not make this about another reason to invade Afghanistan or something. That’s not what this is about. This is about us making peace with each other,” he said.
And finding ways to prevent this from happening again.