Feds: Grand Jury will investigate Fla. Orlando shooting

Del Quentin Wilber
Chicago Tribune

Orlando, Fla. — Federal authorities reported Wednesday that they’ve convened a grand jury to help investigate Sunday night’s mass shooting in Orlando, a U.S. law enforcement official confirmed.

That allows federal agents to gather documents and other records while prosecutors consider criminal charges.

It would be the vehicle to file federal charges against gunman Omar Mateen’s wife, Noor Salman, if she knew the attack was going to occur but failed to alert authorities.

Salman, 27, of Fort Pierce, has told FBI investigators that she warned her husband not to commit the shooting and accompanied him when he purchased ammunition, the official said.

She also told the FBI that she had driven with him to the site of the massacre, Pulse nightclub, at least once before.

She could face federal charges ranging from misprison — the intentional concealing of knowledge about a felony — or aiding and abetting a crime, or conspiracy to commit an act of terrorism.

A federal law enforcement official said prosecutors were in no rush to charge her with a crime — if they deem one has been committed — because she does not pose a threat.

CBS News reported that Salman has been given a polygraph. The results were not disclosed. Those tests are not admissible in court but are used to help investigators determine whether someone is telling the truth.

Meanwhile, police offered stress counseling and debriefing Wednesday to the SWAT team and other officers who witnessed the nightclub carnage, as the FBI tried to reconstruct the killer’s movements and figure out what role his wife may have played in the plot.

A long procession of memorials and funerals for the 49 killed in Sunday’s shooting rampage began taking shape, with mourners scheduled to pay their respects at a visitation for a victim remembered as a friendly salesman and makeup artist.

The FBI said it is still gathering evidence at the Pulse and analyzing cellphone location data to piece together Mateen’s activities leading up to the massacre, while also interviewing people who had any dealings with him.

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

A key topic for investigators is how much Mateen’s Palestinian-American wife may have known about the plot.

At a news conference Wednesday, U.S. Attorney Lee Bentley repeatedly refused to say whether charges might be brought against the wife or anyone else. He said authorities are talking to hundreds of people and investigating everyone associated with Mateen.

Associated Press contributed.