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Some neighbors 'not surprised' after wife of Pulse nightclub shooter arrested

Published: Tuesday, January 17, 2017 @ 6:51 AM
Updated: Tuesday, January 17, 2017 @ 6:51 AM

Update: The Justice Department released the indictment against Noor Salman Mateen Tuesday morning. 

Original story: The FBI has arrested the widow of the gunman in the Pulse terror attack, charging her with aiding him in his plans and obstructing the investigation into the shooting, WFTV learned Monday.

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Noor Salman Mateen, 30, was married to Omar Mateen, 29, when he carried out his attack in Orlando last June.

Omar Mateen pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group during the standoff at Pulse Nightclub on June 12, where 49 people were killed and dozens more were injured.

FBI agents took Salman into custody just after 8 a.m. local time at a home in Dublin, California, her booking listing at the Santa Rita Jail in Alameda County said.

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Some neighbors said they were not surprised. 

"I kind of thought since she's living that close to somebody and married to him that she may have known more than she's putting out," said neighbor Catherine Lawrence. "(I'm) not surprised after kind of hearing all about it."

Salman's former special education teacher, who asked not to be identified, came to the woman's defense, saying she didn't have the mental capacity to comprehending what was happening.

"I thought, 'She is incapable of being an accomplice, absolutely incapable,'" the teacher said.

Salman is charged with obstruction of justice and aiding and abetting the attempted provision of material support to a foreign terrorist organization. 

She will be transferred from Northern California to the Middle District of Florida, the FBI said.   

She is expected to face a judge in Oakland Tuesday morning.

Salman was being held without bond.

Gov. Rick Scott released this statement about Salman’s arrest: “I want to thank the hard working law enforcement officers from the local, state and federal levels for their continued dedication to help find answers to this horrific terrorist attack that killed 49 innocent people. I hope today’s news provides some comfort to the families who are mourning their loved ones.”

Mayor Buddy Dyer also released a statement, saying, "We appreciate the FBI and all law enforcement agencies who worked tirelessly and were dedicated to bringing some justice to this terrible tragedy. Our community continues to heal and we remain focused on taking care of the needs of their victims and their families."

Orlando Police Chief John Mina tweeted about Salman's arrest:

Salman's family did not comment on her arrest. The indictment against Salman is expected to be unsealed Tuesday.

In a statement to ABC News, Salman's attorney said: “We believe it is misguided and wrong to prosecute her and that it dishonors the memories of the victims to punish an innocent person."

Salman's attorney said that Salman had dealt with years of abuse by Mateen.

“You can bet the defense attorneys are going to use anything they can in her defense, including this claim that she was abused,” said WFTV legal analyst Bill Sheaffer.

Sheaffer said the claims are expected to be discussed during Salman's trial in Orlando.

However, Sheaffer said the claims may only be used to try to reduce a possible sentence of life in prison.

“That may well go towards mitigation of sentence than guilt or innocence,” said Sheaffer.

Sheaffer said in a 2016 interview about Salman that “in order to successfully prosecute the wife, they're going to have to show she did something in furtherance of that crime.”

Salman spoke with The New York Times Last year. She told the newspaper that she was aware her husband watched Jihadist videos, but didn't think much of it because Omar Mateen had been cleared by the FBI.

In the weeks following the attack, sources close to the investigation said Salman knew about the plan and helped her husband buy ammunition.

Salman is of Palestinian origin. She moved to the U.S. from Jordan in August 2006.