As It Happens

Owner of LGBT club near mass shooting says Orlando shooter tried to contact him

An owner of an LGBT club in Orlando fears his club might have been the intended target by the man who killed 50 people at Pulse Nightclub on the weekend
Pulse nightclub where Omar Mateen killed at least 49 people in Orlando, Florida. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

An Orlando LGBT club owner says the gunman behind a weekend mass shooting attempted to contact him days before the attack. 

I have 500 people in there in a big open venue. We decided not to be open this weekend and thank you God.- Micah Bass, owner of LGBT club in Orlando

Micah Bass, owner of Revere nightclub, tells As It Happens host Carol Off that when Omar Mateen friended him on Facebook, the shooter stood out from his usual contact requests.

"I get a lot of drag queens and guys with abs asking to dance at my club. Under his picture was a lot of Arabic writing, it didn't fit the profile."

Bass suspects his club could have been the shooter's intended target because it's the closest venue after the highway exit .

Micah Bass is the managing partner at Club Revere in Orlando, Florida (Micah Bass/Facebook)

"To drive to Orlando, you take the Florida turnpike. I'm the first stop — I'm one mile off the exit."

Pulse, where the shooting happened, is located just down the street from Bass's club. Fifty people were killed in the early hours of Sunday morning, including the gunman. Dozens more were injured. 

The FBI says Mateen, 29, appeared to be drawn to radical Islamic ideology. In other reports, his father said Mateen was angered after he saw two men kiss in Miami recently.

"I have 500 people in there in a big open venue. We decided not to be open this weekend and thank you God," Bass says. He says his decision to remain closed had nothing to do with his interaction with Mateen.

This undated image shows Omar Mateen. The gunman died in a gunfight with SWAT officers, police said. (MySpace via AP) (MySpace/Associated Press)

When the gunman's name and photo were released to the public, Bass recognized him immediately because the photo released was the same one on Mateen's Facebook request.

"I almost swallowed my tongue," says Bass. "I called the FBI afterwards and gave them all the information."

President Obama said it was a "heartbreaking" day for LGBT communities and a reminder that any attack on Americans is an "attack on all of us."

Obama also used the press conference to talk about gun control.

U.S. President Barack Obama makes a statement regarding the Orlando mass shooting on June 12, 2016 (Alex Wong/Getty)

"It is therefore a further reminder of how easy it is for someone to get their hands on a weapon that lets them shoot people in a school, or in a house of worship, or a movie theatre or in a nightclub," he said. "And we have to decide if that's the kind of country we want to be and to actively do nothing is a decision as well."

Bass agrees with the U.S. President, "My country has a serious problem with arms."

He says he knew two of the victims. One of them was a close friend who also danced at Revere.

Bass says Orlando's LGBT community is tightly knit.

"I think it's going to become warmer and friendlier. That's what Americans do and that's what the LGBT community will do. They're not going anywhere, we're going to stand strong."

For more on Micah Bass's story, take a listen to the full interview.

With files from CBC News

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