Orlando Police officers direct family members away from a fatal shooting at Pulse Orlando nightclub in Orlando, Fla., Sunday, June 12, 2016. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)

Widow of Orlando gunman acquitted in nightclub shooting

Prosecutors had argued Salman and her husband scouted out potential targets together

The widow of the gunman who killed 49 people at a gay Orlando nightclub was acquitted Friday on charges of lying to the FBI and helping her husband in the 2016 attack.

Noor Salman, 31, began sobbing with joy when she was found not guilty of charges of obstruction and providing material support to a terrorist organization, WKMG reported . Salman was married to Omar Mateen when he attacked the Pulse nightclub. Police killed him after the massacre.

Prosecutors said Salman and her husband scouted out potential targets together — including Disney World’s shopping and entertainment complex — and she knew he was buying ammunition for his AR-15 in preparation for a jihadi attack. She knew that he had a sick fascination with violent jihadi videos and an affinity for Islamic State group websites and gave him a “green light to commit terrorism,” prosecutors said.

Defence attorneys described Salman as an easily manipulated woman with a low IQ. They said Salman, who was born in California to Palestinian parents, was abused by her husband, who cheated on her with other women and concealed much of his life from her.

Attorney Charles Swift argued there was no way Salman knew that Mateen would attack the Pulse nightclub because even he didn’t know he would attack it until moments before the shooting. His intended target was the Disney Springs complex, prosecutors said.

“It’s a horrible, random, senseless killing by a monster,” Swift said during closing arguments. “But it wasn’t preplanned. The importance to this case is that if he didn’t know, she couldn’t know.”

Salman’s statement to the FBI in the hours after the attack appeared to play a key role in the case. In the statement, Salman said over “the last two years, Omar talked to me about jihad.”

She claimed her husband didn’t use the internet in their home, but he did, prosecutors said. She told investigators that Mateen had deactivated his Facebook account in 2013, but they found that he had an account up until the month of the shooting — and was friends with his wife. She said her husband only had one gun when he had three, and that he wasn’t radicalized, they said.

Mateen had pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group before he was killed.

Salman also advised Mateen to lie to his mother when she inquired about his whereabouts on the night of the shooting, prosecutors said.

Defence attorneys said the FBI coerced Salman’s statement and she signed it because she was tired after extensive questioning and feared losing her young son. They fought to have it thrown out.

Jurors asked to review the statement more closely a couple of hours into their deliberations and the judge obliged, printing off copies for them.

During the trial, prosecutors said Mateen, who was born in New York to Afghan immigrants, intended to attack Disney World’s shopping and entertainment complex by hiding a gun in a stroller but became spooked by police and instead chose the gay club as his target.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Sara Sweeney showed surveillance video of the Disney Springs complex that captured Mateen walking near the House of Blues club in the hours before the Pulse attack. In it, he looks behind him at police officers standing nearby before deciding to leave.

“He had to choose a new target,” she said.

Salman’s attorney took the jury through the hours of her life before the attack. She called a friend and her uncle in California, saying that she was coming to visit and that Mateen would be joining them.

She talked with her in-laws, ate at Applebee’s and texted Mateen. He didn’t respond. She later went on Facebook, read a book and then texted Mateen again.

“You know you work tomorrow,” she wrote.

He responded: “You know what happened?”

She wrote, “What happened?”

Then he sent his last text: “I love you babe.”

Salman did not testify in her defence.

Just Posted

Fires highlight need for more volunteers

Short-staffed volunteer fire departments in Elk Valley, South Country rely on mutual aid

Motorcyclist grateful to be alive, thanks fellow drivers

Over a dozen people stopped to assist Lori Hann after she tumbled off her bike on Hwy 3, Saturday

Local athletes ready for BC Summer Games

Twenty-four athletes from the Elk Valley and South Country will compete at the 2018 BC Summer Games.

GearHub staff staying positive after fire

Sporting goods store to fully reopen by end of July

UPDATE: New lead narrows the search for Serval cat

UPDATE, July 17: A new lead has narrowed the search for Aquila… Continue reading

Here’s what you need to know about Day 2 at the BC Games

From equestrian to volleyball to swimming, all 18 events in full swing here in the Cowichan Valley

The Free Press editor wins awards

Editor Phil McLachlan has been recognized at the 2018 Canadian Community Newspaper Awards.

BC Wildfire update on 14 major Okanagan blazes

Watch the media briefing on the current fire situation in the Okanagan.

UPDATED: Kinder Morgan pipeline protesters defy eviction order

Demonstrators at Camp Cloud in Burnaby say they won’t leave, but will meet with city officials

B.C. tent city camper arrested for taking coins from fountain

The man, who built a shelter at a Saanich park, says homeless people are unfairly targeted

Ex-Raptor DeMar DeRozan says goodbye to Toronto on Instagram

The guard was traded to the San Antonio Spurs earlier this week for Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green

Okanagan wildfires have potential to become firestorms, says UBC expert

David Andison said to let smaller fires go, to create pockets in the landscape for new forests

2017 wildfires give B.C. mom chance to say thank you to officer who saved her son

An unlikely encounter in the rural community of Likely, near Williams Lake

From hot dog to not dog: stuffed toy prompts car break in

Victoria couple said dog toy had been in the backseat for 18 years without problems

Most Read