Details emerge about nightclub shooter’s wife
RODEO, California (AP) — She was a sweet, pretty California girl with Palestinian roots who left an arranged marriage only to find love with a man who committed the worst mass shooting in modern U.S history.
Little by little, details have begun to emerge about 30-year-old Noor Zahi 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 Omar Mateen — security guard, bodybuilder and 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. The official said investigators are reluctant to charge her only on the basis of possible advance knowledge of her husband’s plans.
Orlando gunman raged against ‘filthy ways of the West’
ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — Orlando gunman Omar Mateen apparently made a series of Facebook posts before and during his attack on a gay nightclub, raging against the “filthy ways of the west” and blaming the U.S. for the deaths of “innocent women and children,” according to a Senate committee letter released Wednesday.
The killer whose rampage left 49 people dead also searched for “Pulse Orlando” and “Shooting” online on the morning of the carnage Sunday and said on Facebook, “America and Russia stop bombing the Islamic state,” according to the letter.
The messages were detailed in a letter from the Senate Homeland Security Committee to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg asking the company to produce information on Mateen’s online activity and to provide a briefing to the panel.
The letter was released as the long, sad procession of memorials and funerals for the victims began in Orlando and the FBI appealed for the public’s help in reconstructing the killer’s movements. Investigators also zeroed in what role his wife may have played in the attack at Pulse dance club.
“We need your help in developing the most complete picture of what he did and why he did it,” FBI agent Ron Hopper said at a news conference.
Body of boy snatched by gator found in Disney lagoon
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. (AP) — The body of a 2-year-old Nebraska boy who was snatched off a Walt Disney World beach by an alligator and dragged underwater was recovered Wednesday, ending a ghastly search at one of the world’s most popular tourist destinations.
Divers found the body of Lane Graves about 16 hours after authorities first got the call that a reptile had taken the boy from the water’s edge at Seven Seas Lagoon despite his father’s frantic attempt to save the child.
Sheriff Jerry Demings said it appeared the gator pulled the child into deeper water and drowned him, leaving the body near the spot where he was last seen. An autopsy was planned.
“Of course the family was distraught, but also I believe somewhat relieved that his body was found intact,” Demings told a news conference.
The boy’s parents were identified as Matt and Melissa Graves of Elkhorn, Nebraska, a suburban area of Omaha. A family friend released a statement on behalf of the couple thanking well-wishers for their “thoughts and hope-filled prayers.”
Chaos in all corners: club gunman sprayed bullets everywhere
ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — “Please, don’t let my hand go,” Eddie Justice begged Demetrice Naulings. The two best friends huddled together in the women’s bathroom with about 40 other terrified club-goers.
Panic welled in Naulings’ chest. “I was like, ‘I can’t be in this bathroom,'” he recalled, feeling it meant certain death. “Because they closed the door, but we could still hear the gun. And people were yelling, ‘Let me in, please!’ And I was like, ‘Let me out!'”
So clutching Justice’s left hand in his right, Naulings and his friend bolted from the bathroom at the Pulse nightclub. When Justice implored him to hold on tight, Naulings said: “The face that he gave me was just, ‘I’m afraid. And I know with you, you gonna get me out.'”
Inside the club, dozens of people wailed and screamed in pain. Shots, seemingly endless, continued to ring out. Some club-goers — stained with their own blood, or with the blood of others — hid under a bar, while others ran wildly in every direction.
Dozens tried to push toward a hallway leading outside. Naulings had hosted parties at Pulse and knew there was a gate just beyond that. Could they reach it?
Shooter claimed police academy rejection was over religion
FORT PIERCE, Fla. (AP) — Omar Mateen graduated from community college with a criminal justice degree, worked as a security guard and wanted to be a police officer.
But a police academy rejected his application, prompting Mateen to complain that he was denied because of his Muslim faith.
More details about Mateen emerged Wednesday as investigators retraced his movements and tried to talk to anyone who came in contact with him over the last several years. Mateen, a 29-year-old bodybuilder and devout Muslim, opened fire at a gay nightclub in Orlando early Sunday, leaving 49 people dead and 53 wounded. Mateen was killed during the attack.
A number of possible motives and explanations have surfaced, with Mateen calling 911 to profess allegiance to the Islamic State group, his ex-wife saying he was mentally ill and his father suggesting he hated gays.
Meanwhile, a newly unearthed clip from a film documentary about the 2010 BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico shows Mateen — then working as a security guard at a cleanup site in Florida — talking cynically about people who make money off disasters.
AP Explains: How does Orlando massacre fit in US history?
NEW YORK (AP) — The nightclub attack in Orlando that left 49 victims dead was initially described by some news organizations, including The Associated Press, as the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history. In truth, America has seen even bigger massacres, some involving hundreds of men, women and children.
Here’s a look at the country’s violent past and how the Florida rampage fits in:
Mass violence has “a long, ugly history” in America, said Katherine Grandjean, history professor at Wellesley College. “It’s a pattern as old as the nation and goes back long before even into the colonial roots.”
Dem senator frustrated by inaction on guns wages filibuster
WASHINGTON (AP) — A Democratic senator waged a filibuster into the night Wednesday, an attempt to force a vote on gun control legislation three days after 49 people were killed at a Florida nightclub in the worst mass shooting in modern U.S. history.
Connecticut Sen. Chris Murphy said he would remain on the Senate floor “until we get some signal, some sign that we can come together,” and evoked the Newtown school shooting in his state in 2012. His plea came as presumptive Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump said he would meet with the National Rifle Association about the terror watch list and gun purchases.
“For those of us that represent Connecticut, the failure of this body to do anything, anything at all in the face of that continued slaughter isn’t just painful to us, it’s unconscionable,” Murphy said.
Twenty children and six educators died in the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School on Dec. 14, 2012. Murphy, 42 and the father of two young boys, said he cannot look into the eyes of those children’s relatives and tell them that Congress has done nothing since.
The election-year fight over gun control pits strong proponents of the Second Amendment right to bear arms against those arguing for greater restrictions on the ability to obtain weapons. Trump, who has the endorsement of the NRA, told a rally in Georgia, “I’m going to save your Second Amendment.”
Trump’s new Obama claims thrust him into uncharted territory
WASHINGTON (AP) — Donald Trump’s latest accusation against President Barack Obama — that he’s putting U.S. enemies ahead of America’s own people — is thrusting him into uncharted territory for the presidential candidate of any major political party.
Trump spent the first days following the Orlando nightclub massacre hinting Obama was sympathizing with or even supporting terrorists. Some of those times he said he was repeating what “many people” believe — one of the presumptive Republican nominee’s favorite ways to sprinkle conspiracy theories into the presidential campaign.
By Wednesday, Trump abandoned the innuendo and embraced a more pointed accusation against Obama.
“Media fell all over themselves criticizing what Donald Trump ‘may have insinuated about @POTUS.’ But he’s right,” Trump posted on Twitter. The message included a link to a story by Breitbart News, a Trump-friendly website, that claimed to have proof the Obama administration backed a terror group in Iraq.
Trump spokeswoman Hope Hicks said the candidate was retweeting a message from another Twitter user. Still, it was an effort by the GOP’s White House pick to explicitly link the sitting Democratic president with those seeking to harm Americans, just days after 49 people were killed and dozens more wounded in Florida.
Egypt says it has found plane wreckage
CAIRO (AP) — Egypt on Wednesday said that it spotted and obtained images from the wreckage of the EgyptAir plane that crashed into the Mediterranean last month, killing all 66 people on board, according to a statement by the country’s investigation committee.
The committee said that the vessel John Lethbridge, which was contracted by the Egyptian government to join the search for the plane debris and flight data recorders, “had identified several main locations of the wreckage.” It added that it obtained images of the wreckage located between the Greek island of Crete and the Egyptian coast.
The next step, the committee said, will be drawing a map showing the wreckage location.
The 75-meter (82.05-yard)-long survey vessel is equipped with sonar and other equipment capable of detecting wreckage at depths up to 6,000 feet (1,830 meters).
The EgyptAir Airbus A320 en route to Cairo from Paris had been cruising normally in clear skies on an overnight flight on May 19. The radar showed that the doomed aircraft turned 90 degrees left, then a full 360 degrees to the right, plummeting from 38,000 feet (11,582 meters) to 15,000 feet (4,572 meters) before disappearing at about 10,000 feet (3,048 meters).
Leaving rates alone, Fed sees ultra-slow pace of hikes ahead
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Federal Reserve signaled Wednesday that it foresees an exceedingly slow pace of interest rate hikes ahead — and is in no hurry to resume them.
In explaining its decision to keep interest rates unchanged, the Fed expressed concern about a recent slump in U.S. job growth and about the potential consequences of Britain’s vote next week on whether to leave the European Union.
The Fed suggested in a statement after its latest policy meeting that it needs a clearer economic picture before resuming the rate hikes it began in December. It did note that the housing market is improving and that the consequences of an export slowdown have lessened. Yet it signaled concern about the uncertainty of employment growth and global developments.
Some economists think a July rate increase is possible if the job market rebounds from a dismal May and financial markets remain calm after Britain’s vote next week on whether to leave the European Union.
“There are too many uncertainties to justify pulling the trigger” now, said Sung Won Sohn, an economist at the University of California’s Martin School of Business. The Fed “wants to make sure that the surprisingly weak payroll number for May is a temporary phenomenon and not a harbinger of a weaker economy to come.”