ORLANDO, Fla./WASHINGTON, (Reuters) – U.S. investigators have questioned the wife of the gunman who killed 49 people at a gay nightclub in Orlando, the FBI said on Wednesday, and a law enforcement source said she could face criminal charges if there is evidence of any wrongdoing.
Omar Mateen’s wife, Noor Salman, knew of his plans for what became the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history, said the law enforcement source, who has been briefed on the matter.
“With respect to the wife, I can tell you that is only one of many interviews that we have done and will continue to do in this investigation,” FBI Special Agent Ron Hopper told a news conference. “I cannot comment on the outcome or the outcome of that investigation.”
CNN, citing law enforcement officials, said a U.S. attorney plans to present evidence to a federal grand jury to determine whether charges will be brought against Salman. She could not be reached for comment.
The first memorial for a victim of the Pulse nightclub massacre, a wake for Javier Jorge Reyes, was held on Wednesday evening at a funeral home near a four-lane highway just south of Orlando. Motorists honked their support of the attendees, many of whom held signs or wore T-shirts reading: “Orlando Strong.”
In Washington, Sunday’s shooting in Florida stirred fresh debate on gun purchases in the United States, as Mateen, who had expressed supported for Islamist extremism, was legally able to buy an assault rifle even though the FBI had investigated him in the past for possible ties to militant groups.
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump said he would meet with the powerful National Rifle Association lobbying group, which has endorsed him, to discuss limited gun control measures. That marked a break with Republican Party orthodoxy, which typically opposes any restrictions on gun ownership.
The NRA responded that it believed that people listed on terrorism watch lists should face additional reviews before purchasing firearms.
Mateen’s wife was with him when he cased possible targets in the past two months, including the Walt Disney World Resort in April, a shopping complex called Disney Springs and the Pulse nightclub in early June, CNN and NBC reported.
Mateen, a New York-born U.S. citizen of Afghan heritage, was shot dead by police after a three-hour rampage through the nightclub.
Federal investigators have said Mateen, who was 29 and worked as a security guard, was likely self-radicalized and there was no evidence he received any help or instructions from outside groups such as Islamic State.