The Pulse nightclub shooter planned to attack Disney World, according to his wife, but changed his mind at the last minute. What happened?
The Orlando nightclub shooter, Omar Mateen, first planned to attack Walt Disney World’s shopping and entertainment complex, Disney Springs, before ultimately deciding to target Pulse instead, prosecutors said on March 28. Mateen was going to attack children and families by hiding a gun in a stroller, but became spooked by police and abandoned the plot. The new information came to light during the closing arguments in the trial of Noor Salman, Mateen’s widow, who prosecutors have accused of aiding her husband in the LGBT nightclub attack that left 49 people dead in 2016.
Salman is charged with obstruction and providing material support to a terrorist organization; she faces life in prison. Defense attorneys described Salman as “a simple woman with a low IQ who was abused by her husband, and who didn’t know of his plans because he concealed much of his life from her,” according to Daily Mail. Her attorney, Charles Swift, argued that Salman couldn’t have known that her husband was going to attack Pulse because Mateen himself apparently only decided to change course at the last minute. Salman and her husband had visited Disney just a few days before the massacre.
Prosecution said that Salman and Mateen had visited Disney World together in the days leading up to the Pulse massacre. Attorney Sara Sweeney told the jury that Mateen had bought a baby stroller and baby doll at Walmart on June 11 — the day before the shooting — and planned to hide a gun behind it in the stroller to attack families shopping at Disney Springs. Jurors were shown footage of Mateen walking around Disney Springs just hours before the attack. In the video, taken near the House of Blues club, he looks nervously at police officers standing nearby. “He had to choose a new target,” Sweeney said.
His new target was Pulse, a popular LGBT nightclub just 16 miles from Disney World. It’s unclear why Mateen chose that particular location for his attack after abandoning his Disney Springs plot. He killed 49 people, mostly members of the LGBT community, after opening fire in the club with an assault rifle. It was the greatest mass casualty on American soil since 9/11. Mateen was killed after police shot him eight times.