The wife of the Pulse nightclub gunman apologized to FBI investigators for lying to them, said she ‘knew an attack was close’ in the days before the massacre and wished she could ‘go back to tell them’ about it before it was too late, it has been alleged.
Noor Salman, 31, the wife of Omar Mateen who was killed by a SWAT team on June 12, 2016, after slaughtering 49 people in the Orlando nightclub, allegedly made the remarks hours after the massacre.
She was being questioned by FBI agents and local police and is said to have given a written statement which authorities believe proves she knew what Mateen was planning.
Despite the alleged remarks, she was allowed to leave the interviews a free woman. She moved to California with their young son, gave a media interview protesting her innocence and lived quietly until January this year when she was arrested for alleged involvement.
The statements are now being revealed for the first time as Salman prepares to stand trial in Florida.
They were revealed in court on Thursday at a suppression hearing. Her lawyers are trying to block them from going into evidence at her March trial.
Noor Salman allegedly told investigators she was sorry she had lied to them and knew her husband Omar Mateen was plotting an attack on Pulse nightclub in Orlando in the hours after it one June 12, 2016. She will stand trial for her alleged involvement in March next year
They say that they should not be considered by a jury because she was not in custody at the time, had not been arrested.
There is also a suggestion that she was not read her Miranda Rights by one of the agents she allegedly made them to.
The statements included a written one which she allegedly made to FBI investigators and comments she allegedly made to the Fort Pierce Police Department officer who was the first law enforcement agent to speak to her immediately after the attack.
Fort Pierce Police Department watch commander William Hall was the first officer who spoke to Salman visited her home at 4am on June 12.
He claimed in court on Thursday, according to Click Orlando which attended the hearing, that before he could even tell her what her husband had done, she seemed to know.
He described her behavior in the immediate aftermath of the shooting as ‘odd’ and said she told him unsolicited that her husband was ‘careful with guns and would never hurt anybody’.
Mateen had texted his wife at 2.30am, around 30 minutes into his killing spree and 1 hour and 30 minutes before police arrived at her home, to say ‘I love you babe’.
Those text messages purport that she did not know where he was.
The conversation was prompted by a 2am phone call from Mateen’s mother to Salman.
She allegedly asked her daughter-in-law if she knew where Mateen was and was worried. It is not known if the mother was ever questioned over why she was suspicious.
But when police arrived at her house at 4am to say they wanted to speak to her, Salman allegedly asked if they wanted to take her to Disneyland.
FBI agents and the first officer who spoke with Salman, 31, last year said she seemed to know what her husband had done before they could tell her and that she admitted in a written statement, she said she ‘wished she could go back and tell police’ about the attack to prevent it
When police visited her at home on 4am on June 12, as the hostage situation and massacre was unfolding, Salman asked them if they wanted to take her to Disneyland which Mateen had scouted out as a potential location for an attack
It is significant, they say, because Mateen had made surveillance trips to Disneyland in the weeks before his attack to determine if it would be a suitable place for a similar attack.
The woman allegedly said her husband was ‘careful with guns’ and ‘liked homosexuals’ before police could tell her that he was dead or involved in the attack at Pulse
They also say that before they could tell her what had happened, she allegedly volunteered that her husband ‘liked everybody, even homosexuals’.
When one agent asked her what she meant, she allegedly responded that Mateen ‘liked homosexuals because they are sympathetic to Muslims’.
Later, police say Salman told them she saw him researching Pulse on the internet two days before the attack and that when she asked him about it, he said it was a ‘target’.
One FBI agent claims that Salman told him she ‘knew an attack was close’ afterwards. The comment he said she made was: ‘I knew at that time the attack was close.
She also allegedly admitted to driving past it with her husband in the days beforehand on a scouting mission – something police previously alleged they had done – and hearing Mateen say ‘how upset people are going to be when it gets attacked.’
According to the FBI agent, Salman wrote at the end of her statement: ‘I’m sorry for what happened. I wish I would go back and tell police and his family what he was going to do.
‘I’m sorry I lied to the FBI, these are my own words.’
Salman also allegedly told police she saw her husband research Pulse online two days before the massacre and that he described it as ‘a target’ to her
Salman’s lawyers say they are fighting for a fair trial. They questioned why FBI agents did not see her as a threat at the time but now allege she was involved.
The mother-of-one was questioned extensively in June immediately after the shooting.
Once she was let go, she took the young son she and Mateen shared back to California where she has relatives and she has since tried to change his name.
She gave one interview, to The New York Times, to protest her innocence and claim that she was the victim of domestic abuse at Mateen’s hands.
In that interview, she said: ‘I just want people to know that I am human. I am a mother.’
She admitted to knowing Mateen had been watching jihadist videos but said that because the FBI had earlier cleared him (which they did in 2013 after his work colleagues reported concerns about him), she did not think he posed a threat.
She cried during the interview as she recalled learning from the FBI what he had done, telling The Times journalist: ‘How can someone be capable of that?’
Salman’s suppression hearing continues on Friday.