ORLANDO, Fla. - The trial for the widow of the gunman in the Pulse nightclub shooting begins this week, opening old wounds for many who were touched by the tragedy.
Remembering the many survivors, friends and family members of the 49 victims and other members of the community, leaders in the Orlando area are hoping the trial for Noor Salman will bring justice and serve as part of their healing process.
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Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs released the following statement ahead of the jury selection, which is set to begin Thursday.
“Nothing can ever erase the scars worn by so many in our community, especially the families and loved ones of our 49 Pulse angels, but I hope that these proceedings will remind our entire community and nation how vitally important it is for everyone to be aware, and to demonstrate personal responsibility and accountability. Regardless of our individual situations or beliefs, each one of us has a moral obligation to speak up when we believe that a friend, a co-worker, or even a loved one is on the verge of doing harm to others. Truly, if you see something, please say something! I also think it’s important to realize that this trial may bring a lot of emotions to the surface for many who are still grieving. Let’s be mindful of each other, and be ready to offer support and compassion to all those in need.”
Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer also released a statement, remembering the way the community came together after the tragedy and saying they will continue to be united throughout the course of the trial.
“Almost two years later, it still seems incomprehensible the evil acts that visited our city and our LGBTQ+ community. However, in the face of this unimaginable tragedy and still today, our community continues to rally behind the simple ideal - that through the good times and the bad, we are One Orlando. Despite all the pain, the questions and the sadness, our community continues to be a part of something extraordinary and show the world what I know to be true; that the best of America lives here in our Orlando community."
District 4 City Commissioner Patty Sheehan, who spent a lot of time with the victims and their families after the tragedy, released the statement below, asking members of the community to remember throughout the trial that many are still healing emotionally from the massacre.
"I am most concerned about the well-being of the families and survivors during this difficult time. Even though we are seeking justice, the trial opens old wounds and sorrow for so many that were impacted. That is why it is so important that we continue the therapy and outreach at the Orlando United Assistance Center. While many have moved on, the families and survivors continue to suffer the consequences of senseless gun violence, hatred, and terrorism."
Gov. Rick Scott’s office also released the following statement ahead of Salman’s trial.
“Governor Scott’s focus and prayers will remain with the 49 victims of this tragic attack and their loved ones, as well as with the law enforcement officers, first responders and medical personnel who tirelessly work each day to help those in need. While the horrific terror attack at Pulse left a solemn impact on our state, Floridians have shown incredible resiliency, bravery and love in the face of this extreme loss. The Governor will continue to follow all developments in the aftermath of this tragedy as our state continues to heal.”
Orlando Police Chief John Mina told News 6 in January that although more than a year has passed since the tragedy, he still thinks of the victims, survivors, first responders and all of their families on a daily basis.
“It’s something that’s always on my mind, and especially the emotional well-being of our officers is always on my mind,” Mina said. “And we’ve done a lot of different things as far as counseling, debriefing, critiques to try and make it better for them, and they know that is always available to them.”
Mina said he believes the trial will receive a lot of attention in the Orlando area and that many people are interested to see what the outcome will be.
“My own personal views is, I think justice will be served,” Mina said.
Orlando Torres, who survived the nightclub attack, told News 6 in December he believes that if Salman was aware of Mateen's plans, she should be charged accordingly.
"Right now, the holidays are here and our loved ones are not here and it's tough. Families are not spending with their 49 here," Torres said amid the second holiday season since the attack. "There is a need for justice and if she had knowledge, she should be held accountable, and I don't think that's only in my heart, but many of the other survivors as well."
Federal prosecutors will try to prove that Salman is guilty of aiding and abetting -- that she was involved in helping her husband, Omar Mateen, carry out the shooting the night of June 16, 2016, by arguing that she had knowledge of the crime before it took place.
In addition to the aiding and abetting charge, federal prosecutors are looking to prove Salman guilty on a charge of obstruction of justice, claiming she withheld information from law enforcement agents in the days after the attack.
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