Three months after Omar Mateen carried out one of the deadliest mass shootings in modern US history, killing 49 people at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, his employer has been fined $151,400 for filing inaccurate forms with Florida officials.
Following last June’s massacre, investigators tracked down the psychologist whose name appeared on a document affirming that Mr. Mateen had passed an evaluation authorizing him to carry a gun. But the doctor said she’d never met Mateen.
The psychologist had retired, sold her practice, and moved out-of-state nearly two years before Mateen began working for the firm, G4S Secure Solutions, in 2007.
State officials subsequently found a total of 1,514 additional forms with the same error submitted by G4S on behalf of its employees between 2006 and 2016. At $100 per violation, the mistake resulted in the largest fine of its kind, the Sun Sentinel reported.
"As soon as this error became known to G4S, it immediately and publicly acknowledged that this was an administrative error and took measures to ensure that this error would not be repeated,” the company said Friday in a statement.
The error occurred time and again because the company used preprinted forms that it failed to update when a new psychologist took over. Despite the administrative error, the evaluations were, in fact, carried out, Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services spokeswoman Jennifer Meale said.
"While the forms were inaccurate, we are confident that psychological evaluations were conducted,” Ms. Meale said.
The fact that Mateen passed his psychological evaluation is just one item in a long list that troubles policymakers and members of the public who look for disqualifying red flags in hopes of thwarting the next mass shooting.
Although the FBI investigated Mateen for possible connections to Muslim terrorists in 2013 and 2014, they closed those cases, concluding he was not a threat, FBI Director James Comey said.
Nothing in Mateen’s background stopped him from legally buying a semiautomatic pistol and an assault rifle a few days before the shooting, the Orlando Sentinel reported. He was a US citizen of Afghan descent with no criminal record. He wasn’t a drug abuser or fugitive, bound by a domestic violence injunction, or deemed mentally incompetent by a judge.
Fellow worshipers described Mateen as a nice, quiet man who attended prayers with his 3-year-old son at a mosque in Fort Pierce, Florida, The Christian Science Monitor reported.
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has suggested that profiling on the basis of Muslim identity could be an effective tool in efforts to prevent violence. The New America Foundation found that about two-thirds of 508 violent extremists who carried out attacks since 2001 have identified with jihadist terrorism.
Legal experts says, however, that Mr. Trump’s profiling proposal would be both unconstitutional and statistically indefensible.
Trump has claimed, additionally, that Muslim groups fail to report extremists. But law enforcement officials and academics tell the Monitor that’s not the case.
The Florida chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, which publicly condemned Mateen’s attack, offers workshops designed to help mosque-goers identify troubling behavior patterns, Wilfredo Amr Ruiz, a senior official with the chapter, tells the Monitor.
“Once an individual shows signs of radicalization, he’s approached in a holistic manner by a team of mental health workers, law professionals, social workers, and imams to deal with spiritual guidance," Mr. Ruiz says. "The professionals decide what he needs. Maybe it’s psychological or psychiatric treatment. We’ve got all bases covered to prevent that person from committing a crime.”