Saturday 16 December 2017

Orlando gay nightclub massacre: Killer's second wife tells FBI she tried to talk gunman out of attack

The report came as officials probe the online history of the 29-year-old

Reports said Mateen's second wife was cooperating with agents Facebook
Reports said Mateen's second wife was cooperating with agents Facebook
Nicole Edwards and her wife Kellie Edwards observe a moment of silence during a vigil outside the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts for the mass shooting victims at the Pulse nightclub June 13, 2016 in Orlando, Florida. (Getty)

Andrew Buncombe

The second wife of the Orlando gunman has reportedly told federal agents she knew in advance about the attack that left 49 people dead and tried to talk her husband out of going ahead with it.

As officials said they were searching the online history of Omar Mateen and also probing whether he had an accomplice, it was reported his second wife had once dropped him off at the Pulse night club because he wanted to scope it, and had been with him to buy ammunition and a holster.

Nicole Edwards and her wife Kellie Edwards observe a moment of silence during a vigil outside the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts for the mass shooting victims at the Pulse nightclub June 13, 2016 in Orlando, Florida. (Getty)
Nicole Edwards and her wife Kellie Edwards observe a moment of silence during a vigil outside the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts for the mass shooting victims at the Pulse nightclub June 13, 2016 in Orlando, Florida. (Getty)

NBC said that agents from the FBI had questioned Mateen’s second wife, Noor Zahi Salman, 30, who apparently lived with the gunman and their three-year-old son at an apartment building in Fort Pierce, about two hours from Orlando. Local media on Monday filmed her and the couple’s son leaving the building, her head covered with a blanket.

There have been no charges brought against Mateen’s wife. The network said that she was cooperating with agents. However, it said officials were considering bringing charges against her for failing to tell them what she knew before the attack. No decision has yet been made.

The news came amid a flurry of developments in the often twisting and turning story of the attack on the Pulse club and the motives of the man who carried it out. It was also reported that Mateen, a security guard, had visited Pulse on a dozen occasions, used gay dating applications, while others suggested he may himself have been gay or bisexual.

It also emerged that investigators had determined that Mateen had at least twice visited the Disney World resort, a few miles from Orlando.

One of the visits took place just days before he carried out the attack and came as the resort held its annual “Gay Day” celebration. The event can draw as many as 50,000 mostly gay and lesbian tourists from around the country.

On Monday, as officials started to release the names of some of those who were killed they also announced that while there were no reports that Mateen had any sort of accomplice when he stormed into the nightclub in central Florida in the early hours of Sunday, they confirmed they were looking for clues as to whether anyone helped plan the attack.

“There is an investigation of other persons. We are working as diligently as we can on that,” US prosecutor Lee Bentley told reporters. “If anyone else was involved in this crime, they will be prosecuted.”

Mr Bentley did not specify whom he was responding to, but there will be now be assumptions that he had the gunman’s second wife in mind.

In Washington, FBI Director James Comey said officials had evidence that Mateen had been radicalised online.

“There are strong indications of radicalisation by this killer and of potential inspiration by foreign terrorist organisations,” he said. “We’re highly confident this killer was radicalised at least in some part through the internet.”

Details about Mateen and his second wife are still emerging. It is known that she lived in a suburb of Chicago before moving into Mateen’s Fort Pierce home in 2012, and then buying a house with him in nearby Port Saint Lucie the next year. Mateen worked as a private security guard.

But in December 2015, it appears that Ms Salman, who is reportedly of Palestinian descent, moved across the country to live with her family in Rodeo, California. Sarwan Kaur, a former neighbour, said her mother was unhappy about the infrequency of her daughter’s visits.

“Her mother would always complain that the husband did not let her visit the family,” Ms Kaur told the San Jose Mercury News.

Mateen’s father, Seddique Mateen, claimed Salman and the couple’s son were with Mateen only a few months ago, when he became enraged by seeing gay men in Miami kissing in front of his family. The father said the incident may have made Mateen snap.

On Tuesday he told reporters that he was unclear what his son’s second wife knew about what happened. He said his son was responsible for his own actions.

“I can’t say what she knew, when they last talked or what they talked about,” he said.

Independent News Service

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