The wife of 29-year-old Omar Mateen, the man police say is responsible for killing 49 people and wounding another 53 inside a gay nightclub in Orlando, allegedly knew of her husband's plans and tried to talk him out of committing the massacre, as we learned Tuesday amidst a barrage of further news from the investigation. The Chronicle also reports that Noor Zahi Salman was once a resident of the Bay Area — living in the East Bay until 2013.
Salman reportedly grew up on Donald Drive in Rodeo, and returned to the East Bay city after divorcing her first husband. Neighbors of her childhood home told CBS 5 that they never expected her to be involved with something like this.
“Everybody is shocked," one resident of the neighborhood, Radinar Chahal, told the channel. "Everybody is shocked that happened.”
And yet, according to the Chron, Salman told the FBI that not only had she been with Mateen when he bought ammunition two days before the attack, but that she had driven him to Pulse — the nightclub where the massacre took place — on at least one occasion before the shooting. Sources now allege that Salman knew of the attack beforehand, and tried to convince her husband not to go through with it.
Sedique Mateen, the father of the alleged shooter, denied that his daughter-in-law had anything to do with the mass murder. "I don't think so," he told a reporter when asked. He has also said to CNN that he doesn't think his son was gay, despite witnesses who say he went to Pulse dozens of times, got belligerently drunk on multiple occasions, and contacted other men on a gay hook-up app.
“The question is how much [Salman] knows and whether she joined in his purpose,” Laurie Levenson, who teaches criminal law at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles, told the paper. “It’s not just what she knew. It’s what she did to help.”
Speaking of whether or not the FBI might seek to charge Salman with some connection to the attack, Levenson furthered that “If she’s trying to convince him to not attack a place, it shows she does not join in the criminal activity. That would very much work in her favor — but that doesn’t mean they won’t question her.”
Salman so far has not spoken to the press.