Edward Henson, owner of St. Lucie Shooting Center where Omar Mateen bought the guns he used to kill 49 people at an Orlando gay nightclub, said Monday he sold the guns legally and that Mateen had passed the required background checks.
Calling Mateen an "evil person," Henson said at a press conference outside his business he knew the killer vaguely and only as a customer.
"He made a purchase, and it's horrible," the retired member of the New York Police Department said. "I'm just sorry he picked my place. I wish he picked no place."
Henson said Mateen did not buy the long gun and handgun at the same time, and that he was not allowed to bypass legally required background checks because he came into the store wearing his security company uniform. He was allowed to pass a quick background check to buy the long gun, while the handgun purchase required a three-day federal wait and a five-day "cooling off" period required by Palm Beach County.
"If a law enforcement officer walks into this gun store in full uniform, with a firearm on their side, that officer cannot make a purchase on a firearm," Henson said. "If that officer had the concealed carry permit in addition to his credentials, he can make a purchase. There is a full background check done on that officer at that time. Hard to believe but that's the truth."
But Henson said in a New York Post story
claiming his shop turned down Mateen's request to buy military-grade body armor was not true — his shop does not sell body armor.
"I follow the law, I do not make the law," Henson said in an interview with the Sun Sentinel.
"It is horrific, this terrible act that has happened. My condolences to all the families. I'm working with law enforcement and cooperating with them."
Henson said he worked at the Twin Towers on 9/11 before retiring in March of 2002, and has been a first responder for other incidents.
"I have an idea of what they are facing in this investigation, and it's horrific," he said at the press conferences. "So my feelings go out to the law enforcement people as well."
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