Saturday 1 October 2016

Police probe how much club attacker’s wife knew

Investigators piece together motives and movements of Orlando killer ahead of spree

Jay Reeves

Published 16/06/2016 | 02:30

A woman places a photograph of one of the victims of the shooting at the Pulse gay nightclub on a memorial in Orlando. REUTERS/Jim Young
A woman places a photograph of one of the victims of the shooting at the Pulse gay nightclub on a memorial in Orlando. REUTERS/Jim Young

Investigators are examining how much the wife of Orlando nightclub gunman Omar Mateen may have known in advance about the attack that left 49 people dead.

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The FBI is still gathering evidence at Pulse, the gay club where the massacre occurred, and poring over leads and tips about Mateen and those who knew him.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny signs the book of condolence for the victims of the massacre at the Mansion House yesterday .Pic Tom Burke
Taoiseach Enda Kenny signs the book of condolence for the victims of the massacre at the Mansion House yesterday .Pic Tom Burke

Authorities believe Mateen's 30-year-old US-born wife Noor Salman knew ahead of time about Sunday's attack, but they are reluctant to charge her on that basis alone, sources said.

Investigators have spoken extensively with her and are working to establish whether she recently accompanied Mateen to the club.

The FBI has also recovered Mateen's phone and will use location data to verify whether he previously visited the club.

Read more: Orlando shooting: How a Marine veteran’s quick thinking helped save dozens of lives

Gunman Omar Mateen. (MySpace via AP, File)
Gunman Omar Mateen. (MySpace via AP, File)

In a news conference, US attorney Lee Bentley repeatedly refused to say whether any charges might be brought against anyone.

He said authorities are talking to hundreds of people and investigating everyone associated with Mateen, including family, friends and business associates.

Orlando mayor Buddy Dyer said Mateen drove around the Orlando area on Saturday evening, going from one place to another, before he opened fire at the gay nightspot at about 2am on Sunday.

The attack ended with the 29-year-old American-born Muslim being killed by a Swat team.

Orlando is nearly a two-hour drive from Mateen's home in Fort Pierce, Florida.

When asked exactly where Mateen visited, and whether the locations included theme parks as reported in news accounts, the mayor said: "I think it's been pretty accurately depicted on the news."

In Fort Pierce, Florida, where Ms Salman and Mateen lived, Ms Salman made a brief visit to their first-floor apartment late on Monday, escorted by police and her brother-in-law. Her father-in-law said she came to retrieve clothing. She did not speak with reporters.

She has otherwise been in seclusion.

Ms Salman and Mateen married in 2011 and have a three-year-old son.

Marriage documents on file in the Contra Costa County Recorder's office list Salman's parents' birthplace as Palestine. Their naturalisation papers allowing them to stay in the country were approved in 1984.

In other developments, a newly unearthed clip from the 2012 documentary The Big Fix about the 2010 BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico shows Mateen - then working as a security guard at a clean-up site in Florida - talking cynically about people who make money off disasters.

Florida documents show that Mateen passed a psychological evaluation in 2007 as part of his application to be a security guard. The records show he took a written psychological test, or was evaluated by a psychologist or psychiatrist.

A survivor of the massacre, 20-year-old Patience Carter, shed more light on Mateen's thinking during the attack, saying he talked about wanting America to "stop bombing my country" - a possible reference to his father Seddique Mateen's native Afghanistan.

Irish Independent

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