New details are emerging about the shooting massacre that claimed the lives of 49 victims and wounded dozens more last weekend at an Orlando gay nightclub, from a source close to the gunman’s wife and law enforcement officials. According to a report by NBC News, an anonymous source said gunman Omar Mateen and his wife, Noor Zahi Salman, exchanged multiple text messages while Mateen was in the process of killing scores of innocent people. The source, somebody reportedly close to Salman, said that after receiving a call from Mateen’s mother asking where her son was, Salman tried to reach her husband by text message first, and then by phone.
According to the source, Salman texted Mateen and asked, “Where are you?”
Mateen replied, “Do you see what’s happening?”
Salman responded, “No?” the source said.
Mateen then responded “I love you, babe.” Salman then tried to call him multiple times on his cellphone, but didn’t get through, according to the source. Law enforcement officials working the case confirmed to NBC News that Mateen and Salman texted one another, but didn’t elaborate on what was said between them. Mateen was busy in those moments, investigators have said. According to officials, he posted messages of allegiance to ISIS on five different Facebook accounts, searched for news of the attack while it was under way, called friends to say goodbye, and called the newsroom of a local TV station. The hours-long siege finally ended when Mateen was killed in an exchange of gunfire with police.
Salman, who one law enforcement official said accompanied her husband to Walmart when he bought ammunition, is still under investigation and is seeking an attorney.
A clearer portrait of the 30-year-old Salman emerged this week. According to The Associated Press, Mateen was her second husband. She had previously been married to a man that her parents, Palestinian immigrants, had arranged overseas for her years ago. But the marriage fell apart, and Salman eventually met Mateen online and married him in 2011. They welcomed a son three years ago.
Salman hails from Rodeo, California, and neighbors who knew her growing up described her as nice girl, although she was tightly sheltered by her parents.
Jasbinder Chahal, who has lived across the street from Salman’s childhood home for the past 15 years, described Salman as “nice … not the smartest, but she was beautiful.”
“You know, some kids after high school, they open up the box and the world is theirs. She was inside the box, just pack it up and get married,” Chahal told the AP. “Noor never played in the street, and the girls were never allowed to drive,” Chahal said of Salman’s sheltered upbringing.
Indeed, according to Chahal, Mateen was still deprived of being allowed to drive during her marriage to Mateen. It was only recently, she said, that Mateen allowed her to get a driver’s license. And after Salman married Mateen, she rarely visited home, Chahal said, adding that Salman’s mother often lamented that Mateen wouldn’t allow her to come home to visit. Even as Salman’s father was dying, Mateen was reluctant to allow her to visit — but he eventually acquiesced.
Chahal met Mateen and recalled, “He was shorter than her and did not seem very friendly.”