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Orlando mass shooting

Security firm G4S under scrutiny over mistakes on psychological report for Orlando shooter

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 18 June, 2016, 1:16pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 18 June, 2016, 1:16pm

Nine years ago, the state of Florida received documentation from a security company vouching for the mental health of Omar Mateen, who launched a bloody attack this week on Orlando nightclub patrons.

But the psychologist whose name appears on the document in state records said on Friday that she never evaluated a man who now ranks as the worst mass killer in American history. In fact, she was not even living in Florida when the evaluation was supposedly completed.

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The revelation on Friday became another source of scrutiny for the G4S security company, which was known as Wackenhut at the time. The psychological evaluation done for the company, which is required under state law, cleared Mateen to carry a firearm as a private security guard.

“What I do know is that in September 2007, I was not living or working in Florida, I was not performing any work for Wackenhut, and I did not administer any type of examination to Omar Mateen,” Dr Carol Nudelman, who now lives Colorado, said in a statement released through her attorneys to The Miami Herald and other papers who had published her name.

The company on Friday called the discrepancy a “clerical error” and said that Mateen was indeed evaluated, but by a different psychologist.

The global security company – which does work in more than 100 countries – is locally based in Jupiter. Its operations have come under scrutiny a number of times over the years.

In the mid-2000s, G4S was accused of overbilling Miami-Dade County taxpayers of at least US$3 million for security services that were not actually provided at Metrorail stations. But a criminal case against company employees fizzled in 2012, with charges being dropped against two high-level executives.

I did not administer any type of examination to Omar Mateen
Dr Carol Nudelman, psychologist

In 2009, a G4S employee shot and killed two co-workers while on a security detail in Iraq. A British inquest later revealed the company did not do enough to vet the man. The company was also criticised for not providing enough security for the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.

The company fell under the spotlight again Sunday after its employee, Mateen, stormed the Pulse gay nightclub on Sunday, killing 49 and wounding 53. Mateen had been a G4S employee since 2007.

In phone calls to police during the attack, he pledged support to the Islamic State terror group and other extremist attackers.

In 2013, he drew the attention of the FBI after making “inflammatory” statements to co-workers while based at the St Lucie criminal courthouse, claiming he was affiliated with al-Qaeda. The FBI conducted a 10-month investigation but could not prove any ties or wrongdoing; he was not charged.

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He admitted to making the statements, saying that he made them only because co-workers had teased him about his Muslim faith. The company kept Mateen as an employee, moving him to a kiosk at a gated community in Palm Beach County, where he was not armed.

A former co-worker, Daniel Gilroy, told The Miami Herald that he had complained to superiors about Mateen’s frequent violent, racist and homophobic tirades. He alleged that the company had ignored him, while G4S said it had no record of those complaints.

The FBI in 2014 also probed his ties to a Vero Beach man who became an ISIS sympathiser and killed himself in a suicide attack in Syria. That probe into Mateen also yielded nothing; G4S said it never knew of the probe.

When Mateen was hired by G4S in 2007 – after being fired as a state corrections officer – the company trained him and sponsored his application to become a security guard and carry a firearm.

In his application for the firearms licence released by the state on Wednesday, G4S submitted a “character certification” that indicated that Nudelman, then of South Miami, had evaluated or administered a psychological test to Mateen on September 6, 2007.

Nudelman has been in the news before for evaluating a prospective G4S security guard who later turned to violence. In 1998, she passed Paul D Ahern, who went on a shooting spree in Miami, killing two people and wounding a cop.

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On Wednesday, Nudelman’s lawyers released a lengthy statement to various media outlets saying that G4S’ form was a “false document”.

The reason: Nudelman had closed her Florida practise on January 1, 2006 – 21 months before Mateen was supposedly evaluated. “She had no involvement in the psychological screening of individuals for Wackenhut after 2005,” said her lawyer, Taylor Wilson.

In an email on Friday, the company said Mateen was indeed evaluated by the firm that bought Nudelman’s practise, Headquarters for Psychological Evaluation, owned by Dr Joanne Bauling. She could not be reached for comment on Friday.

The company also said Friday that Mateen was not interviewed by a psychologist, but rather, the psychologist evaluated the results of a standard test used in job screenings.