Pulse survivors sue Omar Mateen's employer G4S, wife

Lawsuit alleges G4S and Mateen's wife were aware of his mental instability

By Emilee Speck - Digital journalist

ORLANDO, Fla. - Pulse shooting survivors that have not spoken out before told of the horrific night they were permanently disabled as their lawyers announced Wednesday they filed a lawsuit, claiming that the mass shooting could have been prevented.

During a news conference Wednesday in Aloft Downtown Orlando Hotel Attorney Antonio Romanucci said the lawsuit was filed against shooter Omar Mateen's employer, the international security company G4S, and his wife, Noor Salman.

On June 12, Mateen opened fire on the south downtown Orlando nightclub, killing 49 people and injuring more than 50 others. A more than 3-hour standoff ended when Orlando SWAT killed Mateen.

Survivor Ilka Reyes described the confusion when the shooting started that early Sunday morning.

"It was when I was being pushed to the ground that I noticed my finger was gone," she said. "I do not remember seeing anything else but (hearing) the screaming and noise I will never forget."

Reyes was shot eight times in the back.

After spending nearly a month in the hospital recovering, Reyes said she is unable to work of care for herself.

"I am angry when I think about the statements Mateen made, and to not have anyone do anything about it makes no sense to me," Reyes said.

The brother of one of the 49 killed, dancer and actor Luis Omar Capo, also spoke at the news conference.

"I stand here in disbelief that Omar Mateen was able to buy the ammunition," Capo's brother, Wigberto Cintron-Capo, said.

Capo was 20 years old when he died.

The lawsuit was filed in federal court in South Florida on behalf of more 57 survivors and family members of those killed, Romanucci said.

The group of attorneys behind the lawsuit said that G4S and Salman were both aware of Mateen's mental instability and his intention to commit acts of violence.

“The evidence we’ve seen clearly shows there were multiple warning signs before the tragic Pulse nightclub shooting, and we believe those named in this complaint – the employer of Omar Mateen and his wife -- could have and should have taken steps to prevent this senseless act of violence,” Romanucci said.

The lawsuit alleges that the mental health validation issued by G4S was reviewed by Florida officials before Mateen purchased the weapons used in the Pulse nightclub tragedy.

"We now know in 2013, Mateen repeatedly threatened his colleagues while working for G4S," Romanucci said. " he bragged to coworkers about being associated with the Boston Marathon bombers."

A former police officer and Mateen's coworker repeatedly reported his behavior, including homophobic statements to his employers, Romanucci said.

G4S is the world’s largest security company, its headquarters are in Britain. G4S Secure Solutions, where Mateen was employed is based in Jupiter, Florida.

“G4S continues to have the deepest sympathy for the victims, friends and families who were affected by the Pulse nightclub shooting,” read a statement from the security firm sent to News 6.

G4S media officials confirmed they did see the lawsuit filed Wednesday in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida.

“G4S intends to vigorously defend itself against the lawsuit which it considers to be wholly without merit,” the company said.

Romanucci said Mateen's wife, Noor Salman, knew her husband was going to carry out the killings.

Salman currently is in jail awaiting trial. She has pleaded not guilty to federal charges of aiding and abetting, and obstruction of justice. Prosecutors have said Salman accompanied her husband when he cased locations for potential terrorist attacks and knew ahead of time that he was planning the attack.

"Rather than warn authorities, she kept it a secret and acted as his accomplice," Romanucci said.

Salman's defense attorney in her criminal case did not respond to an email seeking comment.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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