The wife of the shooter who killed 49 people at an Orlando gay nightclub may have known he was planning the attack and could be charged. A federal grand jury has already been convened and could sit as early as Wednesday.
Prosecutors are seeking to charge Noor Salman - wife of Omar Mateen - as an accessory to 49 counts of murder and 53 counts of attempted murder, failure to notify law enforcement about a pending attack and lying to federal agents, according to FoxNews.com, citing an FBI source.
Investigators work the scene following a mass shooting at the Pulse gay nightclub in Orlando Florida, U.S. June 12, 2016.
The attack in Orlando, Florida, early on Sunday ended with Mateen being shot to death by a SWAT team. Of the 53 people wounded, six were listed in critical condition Tuesday and five others were in guarded condition.
"It appears she had some knowledge of what was going on," said US Senator Angus King, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, which had a briefing on the attack on Tuesday.
A person of interest
"She definitely is, I guess you would say, a person of interest right now and appears to be cooperating and can provide us with some important information," King told CNN.
NBC News said Salman told federal agents she tried to talk her husband out of carrying out the attack. She also told them she had driven him to the Pulse nightclub because he wanted to case the joint, the network said.
Mateen, 29, and Noor Zahi Salman, 30, had been married since at least 2013, according to a mortgage document, and had a 3-year-old son together. "The Washington Post" reported that Salman may have left Mateen before the shooting. Sources also told the NBC network that she told the FBI she was with Mateen when he bought ammunition and a holster.
Casing the joint?
Salman and Mateen also went to Disney World with their son in April and the FBI is reportedly investigating whether he was scouting the major tourist attraction as a possible target, Fox News reports.
They reportedly went again in early June, visiting Disney Springs, an outdoor shopping district formerly known as Downtown Disney.
One official familiar with the investigation, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said investigators were beginning to look at the contents of Mateen's cellphone and other electronic devices.
Questions as to the shooter's sexuality
The FBI is also reportedly investigating if the killer had been a regular at the gay dance club he attacked and may have been leading a secret life as a gay man.
An undated image shows Omar Mateen, who authorities say killed dozens of people inside the Pulse nightclub.
A US official said the FBI is looking into news reports quoting regulars of Pulse saying Mateen frequented the nightspot and also went on gay dating apps.
Gay dating app Jack'd reportedly said it was unable to confirm if Mateen had had a profile on the service, while Grindr officials said they "will continue to cooperate with the authorities and do not comment on ongoing investigations."
Mateen's father, Seddique Mateen, denied his son was gay and said that if he had been in the nightclub before, he may have been "scouting the place."
Mateen's ex-wife, Sitora Yusufiy, said earlier that he was mentally ill, controlling and abusive.
"Well, when we had gotten married, he confessed to me about his past that was recent at that time and that he very much enjoyed going to clubs and the nightlife and there was a lot of pictures of him," she told CNN.
"I feel like it's a side of him or a part of him that he lived but probably didn't want everybody to know about," she said.
jbh/bw (Reuters, AP)