Tucson expert weighs in on mental state of Orlando shooter

Published: Jun. 14, 2016 at 12:32 AM MST|Updated: Mar. 2, 2018 at 4:12 PM MST
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TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - A Tucson-area expert weighed in on the disturbing past of Omar Mateen, the man accused of killing 49 people and injuring 53 in a mass shooting at an Orlando nightclub early Sunday morning, June 12.

Chris Segrin, a behavioral scientist at the University of Arizona, said he believes Mateen was mentally ill and extraordinarily out of touch with reality.

The FBI had been looking into Mateen's background since 2013. The 29-year-old Mateen was born in New York, the son of Afghan immigrants.

His ex-wife, Sitora Yusufiy, claimed he was abusive and had a mental illness. Others who knew him describe him as unhinged, homophobic and racist.

Segrin believes that the shooting could have been prevented if Mateen's behavior had been reported in court so that he would have been required to see a doctor, take anger management classes and get treatment.

"It's important when filing for divorce, getting into the legal system to make clear the reasons why," Segrin said. "In the case of someone who is being physically attacked by a spouse for no apparent reason, it is wise to think about how they might take those same behavioral tendencies and apply them to other people unless they're somehow brought to the attention of authorities."

Segrin also pointed out that the vast majority of people suffering from a mental illness are not violent. Even if the suspect was reported to the courts – he would have to be willing to accept the help and treatment.

If you're concerned about someone's mental state, contact the Southern Arizona Mental Health Corporation at 520-617-0043.

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