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Clinton Disavows Support Of Orlando Shooter's Father, Says He Wasn't Invited To Rally

Seddique Mateen, the father of the man who killed 49 people at Pulse nightclub in Orlando, was spotted behind Clinton as she spoke about the "grieving" victims' families. The campaign later said he was not an invited guest at the event.

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Hillary Clinton's campaign has disavowed the support of Seddique Mateen, the father of Orlando shooter Omar Mateen, saying he was not an invited guest at a Florida rally Monday where he was spotted behind the presidential candidate.

Seddique Mateen was spotted in the crowd behind Clinton at a Kissimmee, Florida, rally, WPTV first reported. His 29-year-old son, Omar, opened fire on June 12 at Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando, killing 49 people and injuring 53 others. Omar was later shot dead by police at the scene of the attack.

On Tuesday, campaign spokesman Nick Merrill told BuzzFeed News in an email that Clinton disagrees with Seddique Mateen's "views and disavows his support." Merrill said the rally was an open door event with thousands of attendees, that Mateen was not an invited guest, and that Clinton did not know he was there.

Seddique Mateen was spotted in the crowd just behind Clinton as she began her speech talking about the "grieving" family and friends of the Orlando shooting victims.

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Clinton said that she had recently met Orlando's elected officials, "brave" police officers, and the surgeons who treated the wounded after the shooting. Mateen, who appeared to be holding his cell phone up, then put on a red hat as Clinton began speaking about the attack.

"I know how many people, family members, loved ones, and friends are still grieving and I want them to know we will be with you; we will be with you as you rebuild your lives, as you rebuild hope for the future," Clinton said, as Mateen looked on from behind her. "Because we can't ever let that can kind of hatred and violence break the spirit, break the soul of any place in America."

"Hillary Clinton is good for United States versus Donald Trump, who has no solutions," Mateen — who carried a banner proclaiming Clinton as "good for national security" and "gun control laws" — told WPTV after the rally.

wptv.com

Mateen said he was "invited by the Democratic Party" to attend the rally. "I'm a member. As a member I get the invitations, so there's nothing particular about it," he told WPTV.

Responding to whether he was invited to the rally by the Clinton campaign, Mateen said, "It's a Democratic Party, so everybody can join."

When asked about his decision to attend the event near Orlando where the shooting took place, Mateen said, "I spoke a lot about that. I wish that my son joined the Army and fought ISIS and destroyed ISIS. That would be much better."

He said people should not be surprised that he attended the rally: "I love United States. I've been living here for a long time."

wptv.com

When asked about his presence at the rally, Mateen told BuzzFeed News he was sleeping and would respond later.

Tasneem Nashrulla is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.

Contact Tasneem Nashrulla at tasneem.nashrulla@buzzfeed.com.

Jim Dalrymple is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Los Angeles.

Contact Jim Dalrymple II at jim.dalrymple@buzzfeed.com.

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