ORLANDO — Federal investigators digging for clues in the Orlando nightclub massacre are zeroing in on Noor Salman, the widow of gunman Omar Mateen.
What did Salman know of his plans and what might she have done to stop him? Authorities have been trying to pin her down after she apparently gave conflicting statements about what she knew of his intentions in the hours before the attack.
A U.S. attorney plans to bring evidence before a federal grand jury to determine whether charges will be brought, according to two law enforcement officials.
The process could take some time, as investigators need to finish collecting evidence and establish a timeline for Mateen’s activities leading to Sunday’s attack at the gay club Pulse, in which 49 people were killed, the officials said.
President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden are set to visit the city on Thursday.
What did the wife know?
Salman, Mateen’s second wife, has been cooperating with various law enforcement agencies.
Salman told investigators that Mateen told her he had interest in carrying out a jihadist attack — but she denied knowing of any specific plans, according to two law enforcement officials.
She initially denied that when Mateen left the house Saturday that she had any idea he was going to do something violent.
But in subsequent statements, Salman conceded she had a suspicion he might be planning an attack, perhaps on Pulse, the officials said. According to one official, she knew “for a while” Mateen had thoughts of wanting to do something violent. He had been talking about it for months, if not years.
According to the second official, Salman told investigators that on Saturday she said she tried to tell him not to commit violence. But she didn’t call police.
Mateen and Salman had been married since 2011. They have a 3-year-old son and lived in Fort Pierce, about an hour from where the massacre — the deadliest shooting in U.S. history — occurred.
Additionally, it appears that Mateen used Facebook before and during the attack, according to Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson.
In a letter to Facebook Chairman and CEO Mark Zuckerberg asking for the company’s assistance in the investigation, Johnson said that Mateen used the social networking platform to “search for and post terrorism-related content.”
Mateen’s messages include declaring his allegiance to ISIS and calls for the U.S. and Russia to stop bombing the terror group, according to the letter.
One message reportedly said “now taste the Islamic state vengeance.”
The days and weeks before the crime
Federal investigators are focused on Mateen’s and Salman’s activities in the days and weeks leading up to rampage.
Investigators believe Mateen made surveillance trips to the club and the Disney Springs shopping complex during Gay Days 2016, a citywide celebration, a law enforcement official said.
Disney security officials told the FBI they believe he also visited Disney World on April 26 to conduct surveillance, the law enforcement official said.
At least one trip to buy ammunition
Salman went with her husband to Pulse and Disney Springs, where he scouted the places, a law enforcement official said. It’s unclear how much she knew about his intentions at that point.
Salman has told investigators she was with her husband on at least one trip to buy ammunition, according to multiple law enforcement officials. When and where that occurred is unclear.
Salman claims she didn’t know he was buying ammunition to kill people when she accompanied him, but such purchases were not unusual for him.
CNN has reported that Mateen picked up a Sig Sauer rifle on June 9, four days after he purchased it from the St. Lucie Shooting Center.
Records indicate that Mateen purchased ammunition from that store the same day, according to a law enforcement official. The owner of the shop, Ed Henson, told CNN’s Christopher Lett that Mateen visited the store on multiple occasions but he never saw Salman.