Omar Mateen, Pulse nightclub shooter, considered Disney World attack

Federal prosecutors claim gunman's wife, Noor Salman, knew about plot

ORLANDO, Fla. – Shortly after Omar Mateen murdered 49 people inside Pulse nightclub in June, his wife told investigators about a family outing they took to Walt Disney World a few months earlier, according to CBS News.

Federal prosecutors now confirm that Mateen was also considering an attack at the resort’s Disney Springs entertainment district, which was formerly known as Downtown Disney.

During a hearing in a California federal courtroom Tuesday, Assistant U.S. Attorney Sara Sweeney suggested Mateen sought his wife’s advice about which location he should target.

“Mateen asked, ‘What would make people more upset, an attack at Downtown Disney or at a nightclub?” said Sweeney, according to a report in  the San Francisco Chronicle.

The government believes Mateen’s wife, Noor Salman, assisted her husband in carrying out the terror attack at Pulse nightclub.

Salman’s attorneys claim the 31-year-old mother was unaware of the plot.

Walt Disney World officials said the company uses a variety of visible and covert security procedures to keep visitors safe.

“We work closely with state and local authorities and constantly review the very rigorous security measures we have in place including K-9 units and law enforcement officers on-site, as well as less visible systems that employ the latest technologies in security,” said Disney World spokeswoman Jacquee Wahler.

A News 6 investigation recently revealed an unprecedented surge in outside law enforcement presence at Walt Disney World.

Three months after the Pulse massacre, the special taxing district that provides government services to Disney's property approved a record-setting budget for hiring off-duty Orange County sheriff's deputies.

The Reedy Creek Improvement District has allocated $5.6 million to pay for off-duty deputies throughout the fiscal year that began Oct. 1.

That new budget nearly quadruples the $1.5 million the Disney-controlled government allocated for off-duty deputies annually from 2011 through 2016.

In addition to hiring deputies who want to earn extra pay during their personal time, Reedy Creek has a separate $8.1 million contract with the Orange County Sheriff's Office.

That agreement ensures that additional deputies are always available to investigate tourist-related crimes, write speeding tickets and provide support to Disney’s civilian security officers.

Reedy Creek's $13.7 million total budget for outside law enforcement services has grown by more than 50 percent since just last year and is nearly double the $7 million it allocated for deputies in 2014, records show.  Those services are funded by landowners within the cities of Bay Lake and Lake Buena Vista, of which Disney is by far the largest taxpayer.

Under the current budget, Reedy Creek will pay the Orange County Sheriff's Office approximately the same amount as the city of Winter Park spends on its entire police department.

Besides law enforcement officers hired by the government agency, The Walt Disney Co. independently arranges and pays for even more off-duty Orange County deputies to assist its team of security officers.

The company has not disclosed how much it plans to spend on those extra deputies this year.

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About the Author:

Emmy Award-winning investigative reporter Mike DeForest has been covering Central Florida news for more than two decades.