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Investigators: Wife of Orlando Killer Knew of Attack Plans

Law enforcement officials gather outside the Pulse nightclub, the scene of Sunday's mass shooting, June 15, 2016, in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
Investigators: Wife of Orlando Killer Knew of Attack Plans
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Investigators in the Orlando mass shooting say the killer’s wife knew about his plans for the attack.

Federal Bureau of Investigation officials who remain unnamed say the wife of gunman Omar Mateen had some knowledge of her husband’s plans to attack Pulse, a popular gay nightclub.

Mateen was shot dead by police Sunday morning after the attack that left 49 people dead and 53 injured.

One investigator said the wife, Noor Zahi Salman, also went with her husband on a “reconnaissance” mission to the nightclub between June 5 and 9.

Authorities said Salman is cooperating in the investigation and could provide important information about the reasons Mateen might have carried out the attack.

Noor Zahi Salman and Omar Mateen
Noor Zahi Salman and Omar Mateen

According to a law enforcement official quoted by the New York Times, she was also with her husband when he bought ammunition. Investigators found video footage from a store showing the couple buying ammunition together, CBS News reported.

Authorities say Mateen, 29, legally bought the weapons earlier this month that he used in the massacre, including a semi-automatic assault rifle.

Noor Zahi Salman, 30, was born in the United States to parents who came from Palestine. She was Mateen’s second wife and the mother of the couple’s 3-year-old son.

At a press briefing Wednesday, FBI Special Agent Ron Hopper confirmed that Salman had been interviewed as part of the investigation. But he did not comment about whether she had prior knowledge of the attack.

“With respect to the wife, I can tell you that is only one of many interviews that we have done and will continue to do in this investigation,” Hopper said.

Salman could face charges if it is found that she did not notify authorities of any prior plans for the attack. But U.S. Attorney Lee Bentley said Wednesday it is too early to speculate on any charges that might be brought.

A woman throws a bouquet of flowers at a memorial for the victims of the shooting at the Pulse gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, June 14, 2016.
A woman throws a bouquet of flowers at a memorial for the victims of the shooting at the Pulse gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, June 14, 2016.

Law enforcement officials are telling U.S. news outlets that Salman warned her husband not to carry out the attack as he left home for Orlando on Saturday night.

FBI Agent Hopper said the investigation of the shooting is large and complex. He asked the public to contact the agency with any details about the shooting or any information related to the killer.

In Orlando, officials opened an assistance center to offer families of victims grief counseling, funeral support and free legal services.

On Thursday, U.S. President Barack Obama will travel to Orlando to pay his respects to victims of the worst mass shooting in U.S. history.

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said Obama would meet with families affected by the tragedy, as well as with first responders, doctors and nurses who treated the wounded.

I’m Bryan Lynn.

Bryan Lynn wrote this story for Learning English based on reporting from Ken Bredemeier of VOA with additional reports from the Associated press and Reuters. Hai Do was the editor.

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Words in This Story

reconnaissance – n. a military activity in which soldiers find out information enemy forces​

speculate – n. to make a guess about something ​

counseling – n. assistance and guidance given to someone to help them deal with problems

first responders – n. people designated to respond quickly to emergency situations