During a standoff with police amidst his murderous rampage at the Pulse nightclub, the Orlando shooter texted back and forth with his wife. The messages were revealed during a trial in which she is accused of aiding him.
At 4:27 a.m., June 12, about two hours after Omar Mateen, 29, entered the club and gunned down multiple people, police had the place surrounded, but many were still trapped inside.
It was then that Mateen’s wife, Noor Salman, texted him, twice, asking, “where are you?”
At that moment, she hadn’t been yet contacted by police.
“Everything ok?” Mateen replied.
Salman reminded him he had work the next day, Orlando Sentinel reported the content of the conversation.
“[Your mother is] worried and so am I,” she wrote.
“You heard what happened,” he replied.
“????” Salman wrote. “What happened?!”
As the two texted, Mateen’s mother, Shahla Mateen, twice called him. He didn’t answer.
She left a voicemail.
“Omar call me … I am so worried,” she said. “Please call me.”
“I love you babe,” Mateen wrote to Salman at 4:29 a.m.
“Habibi, what happened?!” Salman said, using an Arabic term for a loved one. “Your mom said that she said to come over and you never did.”
He didn’t reply.
At 5:02 a.m. police used controlled explosion to break through the club’s wall and rescued 13 people.
At about 5:14 a.m. Mateen started to shoot at the remaining people inside. Police threw two stun grenades into his vicinity and moments later engaged in a shootout with Mateen. After he fell to the ground, an officer shot him again, mistaking wiring of a fallen exit sign for wires of an explosive device, Orlando Sentinel previously reported.
Mateen was dead. He killed 49 people and injured 53 that night.
In a 12-page statement dated June 12, 2016, Salman said that her husband looked at jihadist websites “almost every day,” starting about two years before the attack, and that they had driven around Orlando scoping out places.
She said they went to Downtown Disney, now called Disney Springs, and City Place in Palm Beach, as well as the Pulse nightclub.
Mateen wondered aloud in front of her, “where would the next attack [terrorist] make a big splash?’” she said.
When she caught him looking at the Pulse nightclub website, he told her, “This is my target,” Salman recounted.
He bought a rifle about four days before the attack and placed it in the trunk of his car, telling Salman that he bought it for work, she said. He worked as a security guard for the private security firm G4S.
She also said that in the days and weeks leading up to the attack, he bought her a ring for $7,000, clothes from Victoria Secret, and toys for their son.
Also before the attack, Mateen made Salman a beneficiary on his bank account “in case something happened to him,” she wrote, and withdrew $1,000 that he gave to her.
When he left the house with a black backpack full of ammunition and his handgun tucked into a holster under his clothes, she knew he was not going to see his friend “Nemo,” as he had told her.
“I knew later, when I could not get ahold of him, that my fears had come true,” Salman wrote.
“I was in denial,” she continued, “I could not believe that the father of my child was going to hurt other people.”
“I wish I could have done the right thing, but my fear and reality was holding me back.”
She faces charges of aiding and abetting by providing material support to a terrorist, and obstruction of justice.
Her lawyers are trying to get the statement thrown out, arguing that she was not read her Miranda rights before she gave it, and that she didn’t have a lawyer present at the time.
U.S. attorneys have argued that she was not detained, was free to leave, and that she gave her statement willingly.
If convicted, could face life in prison.
NTD’s Holly Kellum contributed to this report.