Feds: Pulse gunman wanted to attack Disney with gun hidden in stroller

Noor Salman accused of aiding husband Omar Mateen in terror attack

ORLANDO, Fla. – During closing arguments Wednesday at the trial for Noor Salman, the widow of Pulse gunman Omar Mateen, federal prosecutors said Mateen first planned to attack Disney Springs and intended to use a baby doll and stroller to hide his rifle.

Government prosecutors said Mateen likely chose to attack Pulse instead because of the presence of Orange County sheriff's deputies at the attraction.

“(Omar Mateen) knew his plan to attack Disney Springs was not going to work that night,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Sara Sweeney told jurors. “His target was Disney, and his wife knew that.”

Sweeney also put two things together in court for the jury. Evidence photos of the Mateen's rental van at Pulse shown to the jury showed a baby doll toy and an infant stroller. She said this is how he planned to cover the long gun at Disney springs.

Mateen bought the stroller and doll at Walmart on June 11 around midnight. He planned to use the stroller to hide the rifle so he would not appear suspicious walking through Disney Springs, Sweeney said.

Sweeney said that Salman must have known Mateen's plans because she asked a Fort Pierce police officer if they would be taking her to Disney after the police showed up at her apartment on June 12 after 4 a.m.


Salman, 31, is accused by the U.S. government of aiding and abetting her husband ahead of the June 12, 2016, terror attack on Orlando's Pulse nightclub. She is also charged with obstruction of justice on suspicion of lying to the FBI after the attack.

Prosecutors also told the jury that Salman assisted her husband, lied to federal agents after the massacre and obstructed justice.

On Tuesday, Salman's lawyers rested their case. The government wrapped up its case last week.

Salman's attorneys, Linda Moreno and Charles Swift, presented their closing arguments by asking the jury to fulfill its promise to uphold the law.

Moreno told the jury that they must reject Sweeney's new theory about an attack at Disney Springs, because it requires them to fill in the gaps.

"We have now known for a year and half what their theory was and it was all about them scouting Pulse and casing Pulse then all of a sudden for the first time in the closing arguments - that's not their emphasis - now it's Disney and the jury will decide if that has any integrity whatsoever," Moreno told reporters after the jury began deliberating. "We don't believe it does. but they will decide"

Swift took his time going over Salman's statement to the FBI, which was written by a special agent, comparing it to a bad apple someone bites into and finds a worm inside, after piece by piece, the statement fell apart, he said.

The evidence showed Salman and Mateen did not visit Pulse, like she said in the statement, on June 8, and there is no proof Mateen ever showed his wife the Pulse website and said "This is my target," both the defense and prosecution witnesses showed.

"Those statements, big worm. That's why she has to make it about Disney," Swift said about Sweeney. "How are we feeling about what we had before?"

Swift and Moreno pointed out that Mateen lied to his wife about his repeated infidelities and hid his online activity by watching ISIS content late at night.

In the statement, Salman said Mateen talked about jihad. Swift said that would be an odd conversation for the couple since Salman liked Hello Kitty and reading romance novels.

"Noor who doesn't go to mosque? Who thinks ISIS aren't Muslims? Why would he talk to her about jihad?" Swift asked the jurors.

Swift talked about the alleged cover story the government said Salman came up with that Mateen was with his friend Nemo the night of June 11.

[EXPERTS DISCUSS SALMAN TRIAL: Morning preview | Noon briefing | Evening recap]

If she had really wanted to help him, Salman would have gone with him. Mateen didn't need a cover story for his family, but for his wife whom he told the same thing he would say when he was cheating on her with other women, Swift said.

"Why would he tell her?" Swift asked.

Swift said it comes down to if the jury believes she knew and if Salman didn't know she's not guilty.

Salman's lawyer closed with telling the jury to follow the truth.

"The dead have gotten that in this trial, we know what happened there," Swift said. "I have faith in you."

After the defense finished, the government took one more chance to rebut Salman's defense.

"She may be simple, but she's not stupid," Sweeney said of the defense witnesses who described Salman as "not that bright" and childlike.

Sweeney said Salman has an associates degree, held jobs and was trusted with the care of other people's children.

The assistant U.S. attorney described Salman as cold and selfish saying she came up with a cover story to help herself.

"You don't have to be a genius to aid and abet your husband in mass murder," Sweeney said.

Twelve jury members began deliberating Wednesday at 1:42 p.m. The panel can ask questions and look at any evidence presented in court during their deliberations.

Follow updates Wednesday from the U.S. District Courthouse as both parties present their closing arguments.


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