Thursday June 16, 2016 – The popular Orlando gay nightclub where Omar Mateen carried out the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history was the gunman’s only target in an assault that was described Wednesday by the FBI’s lead investigator as both a crime of hate and terrorism.
While federal authorities have been reviewing whether the 29-year-old security guard had considered other locations in the area, including Disney World, Ron Hopper, who is managing the broad federal inquiry, said there was no evidence to indicate other possible targets.
Much of the investigation so far has focused on Mateen’s activities in the days before the massacre, primarily an account provided by the gunman’s wife who allegedly told authorities that she sought to dissuade Mateen from launching an attack on the club. A federal law enforcement official who is familiar with the matter but not authorized to speak publicly has said that Noor Salman, 30, also told agents that she drove Mateen to the Pulse nightclub at least once before her husband launched the attack.
The official said authorities were weighing whether Salman’s knowledge was detailed enough to have alerted law enforcement to the plot, which could expose her to possible criminal prosecution. But Hopper said Wednesday that there were “no impending charges.”
“With respect to the wife,” Hopper said, “that is only one of many interviews that we have done.”
Orlando U.S. Attorney Lee Bentley III also suggested that a decision on charges was not imminent.
“Indeed, we don’t know what charges will be brought, or if charges will be brought,” Bentley said.
Hopper said much work remains at the pock-marked crime scene where investigators continued to reconstruct how the assault unfolded during the early morning hours Sunday.
“It is imperative that we get this right,” he said.
A federal law enforcement official familiar with the ballistics analysis said investigators are in the midst of an enormous task of gathering and identifying shell casings left by the gunman and at least 11 officers who engaged Mateen at one time or another during a gun battle that ultimately ended in Mateen’s death.