FBI won't speculate on charges in Orlando nightclub shooting


ORLANDO, Fla. – Investigators Wednesday worked to piece together a picture of nightclub gunman Omar Mateen and his crime and zeroed in on how much his Palestinian-American wife may have known about the plot that left 49 victims dead.

The FBI said it is still gathering evidence at the Pulse and poring through volumes of leads and tips about Mateen and those who knew him, and it urged anyone with any information about the killer to contact the bureau.

"We need your help in developing the most complete picture of what he did and why he did it," FBI agent Ron Hopper said.

An official who was briefed on the case but insisted on anonymity to discuss a continuing investigation said authorities believe that 30-year-old U.S.-born Noor Salman knew ahead of time about Sunday's attack, but they are reluctant to charge her on that basis alone.

Investigators have spoken extensively with her and are working to establish whether she recently accompanied Mateen to the gay dance club, said a second official who was not authorized to discuss the case publicly.

The FBI has also recovered Mateen's phone and will use location data to verify whether he previously visited the club, the official said.

At a news conference Wednesday, U.S. Attorney Lee Bentley repeatedly refused to say whether any charges might be brought against anyone. He said authorities are talking to hundreds of people and investigating everyone associated with Mateen, including family, friends and business associates.

Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer said Mateen drove around the Orlando area Saturday evening, going from one place to another, before he opened fire at the gay nightspot about 2 a.m. Sunday. The attack ended with the 29-year-old American-born Muslim being killed by a SWAT team.

Orlando is nearly a two-hour drive from Mateen's home in Fort Pierce, Florida.

"What I know concretely is that he was driving around that evening and visited several locations," Dyer said.

When asked exactly where Mateen visited, and whether the locations included theme parks as reported in news accounts, the mayor said: "I think it's been pretty accurately depicted on the news." He gave no further details.

In Fort Pierce, Florida, where Salman and Mateen lived, Salman made a brief visit to their first-floor apartment late Monday, escorted by police and her brother-in-law. Her father-in-law said she came to retrieve clothing. She did not speak with reporters.

She has otherwise been in seclusion.

Three people identifying themselves as FBI agents visited Salman's childhood home in Rodeo, California, on Tuesday and spoke with her mother, said Jessie Rojas, a next-door neighbor. Rodeo is in the dry hills near the oil refineries 25 miles northeast of San Francisco.

Salman and Mateen married in 2011 and have a 3-year-old son. Marriage documents on file in the Contra Costa County Recorder's office list Salman's parents' birthplace as Palestine. Their naturalization papers allowing them to stay in the country were approved in 1984.