New videos show Pulse nightclub gunman prepping for attack

Evidence shown to jurors in trial of Noor Salman

ORLANDO, Fla. – Jurors in the trial of Noor Salman viewed newly-released surveillance videos Thursday showing the defendant's husband buying weapons and casing possible targets including Walt Disney World prior to the Pulse nightclub attack.

FBI Special Agent Richard Fennern showed the jury a PowerPoint presentation highlighting the activities of Salman and her husband Omar Mateen in the weeks prior to the June 12, 2016 shooting that left 49 people dead.

Salman is charged with aiding and abetting her husband in support of a terrorist organization and obstruction of justice. She has pleaded not guilty.

On May 21, 2016, surveillance cameras at Disney Springs captured Mateen, Salman and their then-3-year-old son buying a toy at a store.

While on Disney property, cellphone records show Mateen viewed a news website article describing how an ISIS spokesman was calling for terrorist attacks in the United States over the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

Ten days later, cameras captured Salman driving Mateen and their son to a Walmart near the family's home in Fort Pierce. As Mateen purchased ammunition for the handgun used for his job as a security guard, Salman and the child walk up to the sporting goods checkout counter with another toy, surveillance video shows.

Investigators said they found Mateen's employer-issued weapon in his rental van outside Pulse nightclub. It was not used in the attack.

On June 4, videos show Mateen by himself at the St. Lucie Shooting Center purchasing the Sig Sauer MCX rifle he would later fire at clubgoers.

Late that evening, location data from cellphone towers suggests Mateen and Salman traveled south from Ft. Pierce to West Palm Beach where prosecutors allege the couple cased the CityPlace entertainment complex.

A camera captured a photo of Mateen, Salman and their young son in a nearby convenience store around 2 a.m. Videos from tollbooths showing the family was still on the road driving home around 4:40 a.m.

Seven hours later, videos show Mateen back at the St. Lucie Shooting Center buying a Glock 9mm handgun used in the attack.

Cellphone location data indicates Mateen and Salman traveled from Ft. Pierce to the Orlando area on the afternoon of June 8.

Video retrieved from the Bass Pro Shops store in Orlando shows Mateen, Salman and their son standing at the checkout counter as investigators said Mateen bought candy and three magazines for his rifle.

The family then headed to Florida Mall in Orlando where cameras recorded the couple and their son in stores including Victoria Secret, Kay Jewelers and Michael Kors.

Prosecutors allege that Mateen and Salman spent the equivalent of their yearly income over a period of three weeks buying such things as weapons, jewelry, clothing, electronics and toys.

After leaving Florida Mall, cellphone location records suggest the family visited Disney Springs again. Surveillance cameras show Salman and the child inside a store there as Mateen wandered around outside at shopping and entertainment complex.

A receipt from King O Falafel restaurant in nearby Kissimmee indicates Mateen purchased dinner around 10:29 p.m.

In a statement to the FBI the day after the Pulse attack, Salman reportedly told agents she and her husband drove around the Pulse nightclub for about 20 minutes after leaving the Kissimmee restaurant.

Fennern testified Thursday that it would have been "highly unlikely" the couple could have made the trip to Pulse as Salman reportedly described.

The FBI agent told jurors that Salman and Mateen's cellphones had never connected with cellular towers near Pulse until just before Mateen attacked the nightclub.

Also, surveillance video showed Mateen and his son visiting a mosque in Kissimmee at 11:16 p.m. as Salman waited in the car outside. The FBI agent believes the family could not have made the 35-mile round-trip drive to Pulse nightclub in 47 minutes.

Salman's attorneys claim FBI agents coerced their client into making false statements about her prior knowledge of the terrorist attack.

On June 9, surveillance cameras inside the gun range at the St. Lucie Shooting Center showed Mateen conducting target practice with his Sig Sauer rifle.

Less than four hours before the Pulse attack, cameras captured Mateen walking around Disney Springs alone. The videos also showed Mateen passing several uniformed and armed Orange County sheriff's deputies who were providing security at the Disney property.

Cellphone location data indicates that Mateen left Walt Disney World around 12:27 a.m. on June 12 and began heading northeast on I-4 towards downtown Orlando.

Records show Mateen searched Google for "downtown orlando nightclubs" as well as sought directions to Eve Orlando, a nightclub located less than two miles from Pulse.

Between 12:44 and 1:21 a.m., investigators said Mateen's cellphone connected with several cell towers located near Eve Orlando.

Cellular location data suggests Mateen then began driving south on Orange Avenue towards Pulse nightclub, where authorities said he began shooting patrons at 2:02 a.m.

About the Author:

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