ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — The Orlando nightclub shooter intended to attack Disney World’s shopping and entertainment complex by hiding a gun in a stroller but became spooked by police and instead chose the gay club as his target, prosecutors said Wednesday.
Prosecutors revealed the details during their closing arguments in the trial of Noor Salman, the widow of Pulse nightclub shooter Omar Mateen. Salman, 31, is accused of aiding her husband in the attack that killed 49 people in 2016. She is charged with obstruction and providing material support to a terrorist organization.
“The defendant’s steps don’t have to equal to her husband,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Sara Sweeney told jurors.
Defense attorneys have described Salman as a simple woman with a low IQ who was abused by her husband, and who didn’t know of his plans because he concealed much of his life from her. They will present their closing arguments later Wednesday.
Sweeney said Salman didn’t know that Mateen was going to the Pulse nightclub on the night of the attack — she thought he was at Disney World. They two had visited Disney in the days before the attack, according to one of her statements to federal authorities.
“The target of that terrorist attack was not the Pulse nightclub,” Sweeney said. “The target of the attack was Disney.”
Sweeney showed a video of the Disney Springs complex that captured Mateen walking near the House of Blues club in the hours before the Pulse attack. In it, he looks behind him at police officers standing nearby.
“He had to choose a new target,” she said.
Sweeney said Salman “knowingly engaged in misleading conduct” when she spoke to the FBI in the hours after the attack.
Prosecutors said she claimed her husband didn’t use the internet in their home, but he did. She also told investigators that Mateen had deactivated his Facebook account in 2013, but investigators found that he had an account up until the month of the shooting and was friends with his wife. She said her husband only had one gun when he had three, and that he wasn’t radicalized even though prosecutors said he spent time watching beheading videos and looking at Islamic State group sites.
Mateen, who had pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group, was killed by police in the hours after the shooting.
Sweeney also said that Mateen had bought a baby stroller and doll at Walmart on June 11 — the day before the attack — and had a plan to hide a gun in the stroller while going to Disney.