Mia De Graaf, Daily Mail, June 16, 2016
Mass murderer Omar Mateen texted with his wife while shooting dead his helpless victims inside an Orlando gay club early Sunday.
Noor Salman, 30, called her husband a little after 2am when his mother contacted her and said she was concerned about his whereabouts, a law enforcement official working on the investigation told CNN.
Mateen, who was just starting his brutal massacre at that time, did not answer, so at 2.30am Salman texted: ‘Where are you?’
At that point Mateen responded, telling his wife: ‘Do you see what’s happening?’
When she replied back to that by texting ‘no’ he wrote: ‘I love you babe.’
There were no text messages exchanged between the two after that, though Salman did call her husband again a few hours later during his standoff with police. He did not answer his phone.
Investigators on the case are not revealing if Salman called authorities or 911 at any point during the shooting to identify her husband as the gunman, and the answer to that question could go a long way in explaining just how much she knew about the attack.
The FBI and federal prosecutors meanwhile are planning to bring evidence about Salman’s role in the shooting in front of a grand jury to get her indicted on at least two criminal charges for her role in the attack–which could possibly include multiple counts of murder and attempted murder for each of her husband’s victims.
An FBI source told Fox News that a panel has already been put together to target Salman, who could be facing any possible number of charges.
That source also stated that Salman could ultimately be charged with 49 counts of murder and 53 counts of attempted murder for her role in the shooting, which the FBI has declared was both a terrorist attack and a hate crime.
If investigators find proof that she scouted out Pulse nightclub or went to purchase ammunition or firearms with her husband knowing about his plans, then under federal law she would be just as guilty of her husband’s crimes.
Investigators have reportedly obtained surveillance footage showing Salman buying ammunition with Mateen days before the attack.
There are also reports claiming she told law enforcement that she drove her husband to Walt Disney World and Pulse nightclub to scout out locations.
It is unclear though just how much she may have known about her husband’s plans, with the FBI and investigators on the case keeping quiet when it comes to that question.
John Malcolm, director of the Heritage Foundation’s Edwin Meese III Center for Legal and Judicial Studies, said that other possible charges Salman could face include aiding and abetting, being a co-conspirator, or making false statements to federal investigators.
Despite initially resisting questions, law enforcement said Salman is now fully cooperating with the investigation.
She was seen on Monday returning briefly to the apartment in Fort Pierce, Florida, that she shared with Mateen and their three-year-old son, before getting back in a police car to continue questioning.
Salman has not commented publicly since the attack, which began around 2am early Sunday.
‘I can assure you that we’re working with our law enforcement partners to find out everything that we can about what happened at the Pulse nightclub,’ Lee Bentley, the U.S. Attorney for Florida’s middle district said on Wednesday.
‘We are using all law enforcement and legal tools to reconstruct not only the events of that night but the events of the past several months.’
Salman was raised by her Palestine-born parents in Rodeo and she graduated from John Swett High School in nearby Crockett, where many of her extended family still live.
Her first marriage was arranged in the Palestinian Territories by her parents, but the cultural frictions between them–Salman an American, her husband Middle Eastern–were too great, neighbors said.
She met Mateen–security guard, bodybuilder and devout Muslim–online. They were married on September 29, 2011, near her hometown.
On June 12, Mateen unleashed his deadly attack on a nightclub of innocent people.
Salman is the eldest of four daughters, with other relatives living in Ohio and Louisiana.
It’s unclear when her parents, who served as witnesses for Salman’s wedding to Mateen, came to the US. Their naturalization papers allowing them to stay in the country were approved in 1984.
According to a neighbor Jasbinder Chahal, who has lived across the street from Salman’s childhood home for the last 15 years, Salman’s parents tried to shelter their four girls as they grew up.
‘Noor never played in the street, and the girls were never allowed to drive,’ Chahal said.
After graduating, she stayed somewhat reclusive.
‘You know, some kids after high school, they open up the box and the world is theirs. She was inside the box, just pack it up and get married,’ Chahal said.
‘They had a small wedding and took lots of pictures here at the house,’ said Chahal. The marriage license says the ceremony took place in Hercules, California, and that an imam officiated.
Of Mateen, Chahal said: ‘He was shorter than her and did not seem very friendly.’
Salman rarely came home to visit after she married because Mateen would not let her, Chahal said.
She quoted Salman’s mother telling her that Mateen even tried to keep his wife from traveling home to see her father when he was sick.
Eventually Noor managed to scrape together the money to visit before her father died in a local hospital, Chahal said.
Mateen was shot dead by law enforcement during his attack.
On Tuesday, FBI agents visited the home of Salman’s mother, Zahi, in Rodeo, California, a small town north of San Francisco.
A woman, believed to be Zahi, a widow, came to the door when Daily Mail Online visited but refused to say anything beyond that the family are ‘OK’.
The woman added: ‘We are OK but we don’t want to say anything. I am waiting for my daughter and to hear of her son. We will be OK.’
Shortly after the FBI departed, a neighbor Chuck Surman, 54, approached the house to leave a bunch of flowers on the mat.
Asked why, he said: ‘I wanted to do something for her [Zahi]. You can’t help what your kids do. I was shocked when I heard.’
Another neighbour said Salman only visited her mother once after she married Mateen.
Salman’s mother ‘didn’t like him very much. He didn’t allow her [Noor] to come here,’ neighbor Rajinder Chahal told Reuters.
He said he had spoken to Noor Salman’s mother after the Orlando attack, adding. ‘She was crying, weeping.’
Salman’s cousin Sana, 24, also lives close by but when approached by Daily Mail Online, said she did not know Mateen and had no further comment to make.
Salman’s mother, Zahi, 50, still lives at the family home, which was left to her by her 56-year-old husband following his death last year.
Neighbors describe a peaceful family who are quietly religious and have never caused trouble on the tranquil street on which they live.
A marriage license says Salman and Mateen, 29, married on Sept. 29, 2011, in Hercules, California, and that an imam officiated, AP reported.
Salman married him after his divorce from first wife Sitora Yusifiy, 26, of Boulder, Colorado. It was also the second marriage for Salman, whose first had been arranged in Palestine by her parents, said Jasbinder Chahal, her mother’s neighbor.
Marriage documents in the Contra Costa County Recorder’s office stated Salman was born in the United States while her parents’ birthplaces were listed as Palestine, AP reported.