Orlando shooter sent wife text messages during Pulse nightclub massacre, officials say

Posted at 7:46 AM, Jun 17, 2016
and last updated 2016-06-17 14:23:32-04

Orlando shooter Omar Mateen sent text messages to his wife Noor Zahi Salman during the massacre at Pulse nightclub and a grand jury investigation is underway in the case, ABC News reports.

It remains unclear whether Salman was aware of the carnage her husband was inflicting on club-goers at the Pulse nightclub on June 12 when she received the messages. Authorities are considering at least two charges against her, law enforcement told ABC News.

Around 4 a.m., holed up in a bathroom about two hours after he started the attack, Mateen texted his wife, asking if she'd seen the news, officials told CNN.

At one point, she responded with a text saying that she loved him, CNN reports. Salman also tried numerous times to call Mateen.

RELATED: Listen to the moment SWAT entered Orlando club

Mateen also posted on Facebook before and during his shooting spree, according to CNN, calling on the United States and Russia to stop bombing the Islamic State, and warning that the terror group will attack on American soil.

Mateen was killed in a shootout at 4 a.m. after police breached the bathroom walls.

Salman, 30, was interviewed by the FBI for the first time on June 12 in Fort Pierce, Florida, located about two hours southeast of Orlando.

A law enforcement official previously told ABC News that she may have known something about the massacre in advance but claims she tried to talk him out of the assault.

Officials are trying to assess the veracity of that claim.

Salman was with her husband when he recently bought ammunition and a holster, sources familiar with the investigation told ABC News. The couple had also recently gone to the Disney World area together, though authorities are unclear if it was a family trip or if Mateen was there to case a possible target, the sources said.

RELATED: The stories of the Orlando shooting victims

Little by little, details have begun to emerge about Salman, who grew up in the small suburb of Rodeo, California, tucked in the dry hills near the oil refineries 25 miles northeast of San Francisco.

Her romance with Mateen - security guard, bodybuilder and devout Muslim - began online, according to a neighbor, and they were married on Sept. 29, 2011, near her hometown, according to public records. The couple has a 3-year-old son.

Early Sunday, the 29-year-old Mateen opened fire at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, leaving 49 people dead and 53 wounded.

Authorities believe Mateen's wife knew about the plot ahead of time, said an official who was briefed on the progress of the case but insisted on anonymity to discuss a continuing investigation. 

Three people identifying themselves as FBI agents visited Salman's childhood home in Rodeo on Tuesday and spoke with her mother, said Jessie Rojas, a next-door neighbor.

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.

According to marriage documents on file in the Contra Costa County Recorder's office, Salman was born in the United States while her parents' birthplaces were listed as "Palestine."

Jasbinder Chahal, who has lived across the street from Salman's childhood home for the last 15 years, said Salman is "very 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," said Chahal.

"They had a small wedding and took lots of pictures here at the house," said Chahal. The marriage license says the ceremony took place in Hercules, California, and that an imam officiated.

Of Mateen, Chahal said, "He was shorter than her and did not seem very friendly."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.