Pulse Shooter Meant to Attack Disney World: Prosecutors

But was scared off by police presence there, they say
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 28, 2018 4:29 PM CDT
This undated file image provided by the Orlando Police Department shows Omar Mateen.   (Orlando Police Department via AP)

(Newser) – Omar Mateen meant to go on his shooting rampage at Disney World in June 2016—but was scared off by the police presence there and instead attacked Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Fla., killing 49, according to prosecutors in the case against Mateen's wife, Noor Salman. Salman, 31, is accused of helping Mateen with the Pulse attack, and prosecutors said Wednesday during closing arguments that the couple visited Disney World in the days leading up to the attack, the AP reports. Mateen was caught on surveillance video at Disney Springs, the theme park's entertainment and shopping complex, just hours before the Pulse attack. He can be seen looking behind him at police officers standing nearby, then leaving, the Orlando Sentinel reports. "He had to choose a new target," a prosecutor said.

She also showed the jury pictures of a baby stroller—which was not the right size for Mateen's then-3-year-old son—and doll found in a search of the vehicle Mateen drove to Pulse. He planned to hide his long gun in the stroller to get it into Disney, she said. Cell phone data places Mateen at Disney Springs around 10pm on June 11, 2016, and near Epcot at 12:22am June 12, and records show he searched for "disney springs" and "disney world" during that time period. After that, he searched for "downtown orlando nightclubs"; Google results offered up Pulse and EVE Orlando. He drove to EVE first, but quickly left and ended up at Pulse, where he started shooting at 2:02am. The defense argued that if even Mateen didn't know until the last minute where his rampage would take place, his wife couldn't have known. The jury started deliberating Wednesday afternoon.

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