Widow of Pulse nightclub shooter said she knew 'he was going to do something bad'
The widow of Pulse nightclub shooter Omar Mateen told authorities that she knew in advance that her husband was going to attack the gay club in Orlando, Fla., but a psychologist is expected to testify in her trial that she was not telling the truth. Bruce Frumkin, a Miami-based psychologist and expert on false and coerced confessions, was given the go-ahead Friday to testify in the trial of Noor Salman regarding her statements to the FBI in the hours after the shooting on June 12, 2016. "I knew when he left the house he was going to Orlando to attack the Pulse Night Club," Salman said, according to a statement written by an FBI agent and signed by Salman during the 18-hour interview.
U.S. District Judge Paul Byron ruled in the defense's favor Friday to allow Frumkin to testify, Salman's lawyer Charles Swift said. The hearing was closed to the public.
Swift declined to say what Frumkin will testify about, but in previous hearings defense lawyers argued that Salman's statements to the FBI in the hours after the attack should be excluded from trial.
She was in custody and not given proper Miranda warnings, her lawyers said. U.S. attorneys argued that she was not in custody, free to leave at any time, and that all her statements were voluntary. Salman's statements to law enforcement were recently made public.
"I knew on Saturday, when Omar left the house about 5 p.m. that this was the time that he was going to do something bad. I knew this because of the way he left and took the gun and backpack with ammunition," Salman said, according to the statement she signed. She is charged with providing material support to a terrorist organization and obstruction of justice.
She is scheduled to stand trial in March. Lawyers anticipate the trial will last a month.
Mateen, who had declared allegiance to Islamic State, killed 49 people and injured at least 68 others when he opened fire in the nightclub. He was killed in a shootout with Orlando police.
"I knew later, when I could not get ahold of him that my fears had come true and he did what he said he was going to do," Salman said. "I was in denial and I could not believe that the father of my child was going to hurt other people." She told investigators Mateen became obsessed with violence in the Middle East and Islamic State recruitment videos in the two years leading up to the shooting. Shortly before the shooting, she said, he started looking at places in the area and making comments about attacking them -- including Downtown Disney, now called Disney Springs, and CityPlace in West Palm Beach.
The couple, with their young son in the vehicle, drove around Pulse a week before the shooting. "'How upset are people going to be when it gets attacked?'" Mateen said, according to Salman's statement. "I knew he was talking about himself doing the attack on the Pulse," she said, according to the statement.
Mateen spent thousands of dollars in the weeks before the shooting, including on a rifle, jewelry for his wife and toys for their son, she said. He added Salman as a beneficiary to his checking and savings accounts about two or three weeks before the shooting and said he was doing so "in case something happened to him." Salman said Mateen became angry when she asked him about the rifle and he told her "not to say anything to anybody," she said.
He then told her it was for his work as a licensed security guard for the private security firm G4S.
Mateen was armed with two guns -- a 9-millimeter semiautomatic pistol and a .223-caliber assault rifle -- when he attacked the club.
Torralva writes for the Orlando Sentinel.