- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 14, 2016

The Florida gun dealer who sold two semi-automatic firearms to the Muslim terrorist who gunned down 49 people Sunday said he followed every law by the book and refuses to let the media make a villain out of him.

“It’s horrible, but I don’t make the laws. I abide by them,” said Ed Henson, owner of the St. Lucie Shooting Center where Omar Mateen bought the SIG Sauer MCX rifle and Glock 17 pistol used to kill 49 and maim 53 others at a gay nightclub in Orlando.

“My heartfelt condolences for the family and victims and I can’t imagine the horror they face,” Mr. Henson, a retired NYPD police officer, told reporters during a press conference Monday, NBC News reported. “I did everything by the book. I’m not going to be made into a villain.”

Mr. Henson said Mateen bought the guns on two separate occasions within the last two weeks and passed the mandatory background checks.

“An evil person came in here and legally purchased two firearm from us,” the owner said. “And if he hadn’t gotten them from us, I’m sure he would have gotten them from another local gun store in the area.”

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms confirmed that both guns were bought legally, even though the FBI investigated Mateen for 10 months in 2013 and 2014 over allegations he had terrorist ties, NBC News reported. Mateen was placed on a watch list but then removed after the FBI determined the claims were unsubstantiated. 

ATF agents showed up at the St. Lucie Shooting Center after the tragedy and were still there Monday afternoon, NBC News reported.

“We’ve been cooperating with them and other law enforcement agencies,” Mr. Henson said. “We did nothing wrong.”

“I just hope that you do some truthful reporting and get to the facts and stay focused, at least for the incident and say your prayers for the victims,” Mr. Henson said. “It is horrific and we all feel that same pain.”

Regina Lombardo, the ATF’s special agent in charge for the bureau’s Tampa office, said a third weapon was recovered from Mateen’s vehicle and investigators are working to trace its history, the Associated Press reported.

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