The ex-wife of the 29-year-old man suspected of killing 50 people in a Orlando nightclub early Sunday said that he was violent and mentally unstable and beat her repeatedly while they were married.
The ex-wife said she met Omar Mateen online about eight years ago and decided to move to Florida and marry him.
At first, the marriage was normal, she said, but then he became abusive.
"He was not a stable person," said the ex-wife, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because she feared for her safety in the wake of the mass shooting. "He beat me. He would just come home and start beating me up because the laundry wasn't finished or something like that."
While the FBI has not identified Mateen publicly, US law enforcement officials said his identification was found on the body of the killer, who was armed with a handgun and an assault rifle.
Authorities think he used those weapons to kill 50 people and injure dozens more in the attack on the gay nightclub that began just after 2am on Sunday local time. Mateen was killed in a shootout with police three hours later after a SWAT team assaulted a section of the club where Mateen was holed up with hostages.
Mateen's ex-wife said his family was from Afghanistan, but her ex-husband was born in New York. His family later moved to Florida. In a series of Myspace photos, Mateen is seen taking selfies and wearing New York Police Department shirts in a couple of the shots. His ex-wife identified him as the man in the Myspace photos.
Mateen's ex-wife said she was having a difficult time when she first met him and decided to move to Florida to be with him. The two married in March 2009 and moved into a 2-bedroom condominium in Fort Pierce, Florida, that Mateen's family owned.
"He seemed like a normal human being," she said, adding that he wasn't very religious and worked out at the gym often. She said in the few months they were married he gave no signs of having fallen under the sway of radical Islam. She said he owned a small-caliber handgun and worked as a guard at a nearby facility for juvenile delinquents.
"He was a very private person," she said.
The ex-wife said her parents intervened when they learned Mateen had assaulted her. Her father confirmed the account and said that the marriage lasted only a few months.
Her parents flew down to Fort Pierce and pulled her out of the house, leaving all her belongings behind. The ex-wife she said never had contact with Mateen again despite attempts by him to reach her.
"They literally saved my life," she said of her parents.
According to Florida court records, the two formally divorced in 2011.
After learning about what happened in Orlando, she said: "I am still processing. I am definitely lucky."