Putnam says Orlando killer passed all background checks for state licenses, including mental health screening
Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam said Monday that Omar Mateen, the gunman in the massacre at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, successfully received two security guard licenses from his agency and renewals because he passed every check under Florida law.
"All of the normal safeguards, all of the normal checks, were completed, and there was no disqualifying offense to prevent the individual from obtaining his license," Putnam said.
"He was fingerprinted, he successfully completed the application, had a criminal background check -- there is nothing in that record that would have disqualified this individual, who was a U.S. citizen, who had a clean criminal record, who underwent a background check and mental health screening, from receiving those licenses."
Putnam's Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services regulates security guards. Mateen held "D" and "G" licenses with the state, meaning he was a licensed security guard and licensed to carry a firearm. The licenses were valid through 2017.
Putnam's agency has not yet responded to public records request from numerous news outlets, including the Times/Herald, for Mateen's file. He said the file "is fairly rich with data that is pertinent to the investigation" and that his agency is working with the FBI and other law enforcement agencies to decide "the appropriate timing" of their release.
Putnam declined to say whether the FBI had contacted his agency about Mateen. The FBI has confirmed it questioned Mateen on three separate occasions.
The Cabinet member and likely candidate for governor met reporters to the state Emergency Operations Center in Tallahassee, activated Sunday by Gov. Rick Scott.
Putnam has been a strong supporter of gun rights and he was repeatedly asked if the Orlando massacre has prompted him to rethink his views on the subject, but he did not directly address the question.
"This tragedy is a painful reminder of how U.S.-born individuals, neighbors, classmates, co-workers can harbor an ideology so dark that they are capable of using the freedoms and the liberties that this country awards all of our citizens for the darkest possible motives," he said.
Putnam also cautioned Floridians to be careful about requests to donate to charities on behalf of the victims and their families. He said it's "fairly common" for people to rip off innocent people at a time of grief by seeking donations to phony charities.
Putnam, a Republican, is in his second and final term as the elected agriculture commissioner, and he's widely regarded as a leading candidate for governor in 2018.