SAN FRANCISCO (WTXF/AP) - A family member says the widow of the Orlando nightclub shooter is a victim herself and innocent of charges of helping her husband in the months leading up to the June massacre.
Al Salman, uncle of 30-year-old Noor Salman, said Tuesday his niece knew nothing of her husband's plan to attack the Pulse nightclub, killing 49 people. He said his niece was a "simple and innocent" woman who was physically and mentally abused by husband Omar Mateen.
Noor Salman's attorney said at a brief court hearing that he'll seek her release from jail pending trial. Salman said little and looked sadly back at her uncle as she was led back to jail.
A judge scheduled another hearing Wednesday to formally appoint a lawyer to represent Salman, discuss transporting her to Florida to face federal charges and her possible release pending trial.
The widow of the Orlando nightclub gunman has been charged with helping her husband in the months leading up to the June massacre that left 49 people dead, according to an indictment unsealed Tuesday.
Noor Salman, 30, went to federal court in Oakland on Tuesday, following her arrest a day earlier on the Florida charges.
The two-count indictment accuses her of knowingly aiding and abetting her husband, Omar Mateen, in providing material support and resources to the Islamic State group between April and June of last year. It also says she knowingly misled police and the FBI after the June 12, 2016, attack at the Pulse nightclub. The charging document does not give additional details on Salman's actions.
Salman is from the San Francisco Bay Area, and in the aftermath of the Orlando attack that also left her husband dead, she returned here with their son, whose name she has since sought to change. She was repeatedly questioned by FBI investigators over whether she had any knowledge of her husband's plans.
Her attorney Linda Moreno said after her arrest that she "had no foreknowledge nor could she predict what Omar Mateen intended to do that tragic night."
Salman told The New York Times in an interview published in November that she knew her husband had watched jihadist videos but was "unaware of everything" regarding his intent to shoot up the club. Salman also said he had physically abused her, which her attorney reiterated Monday.
"Noor has told her story of abuse at his hands," Moreno said. "We believe it is misguided and wrong to prosecute her and that it dishonors the memories of the victims to punish an innocent person."
The San Francisco office of the FBI said Salman was taken into custody Monday morning in Rodeo, which is the small Bay Area community where she grew up and where her family lives. She is being held about 30 miles away at Santa Rita Jail in Dublin. Previously, jail records stated that she had been arrested in Dublin. The reason for the discrepancy wasn't clear.
U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch said in a Monday interview with MSNBC that "from the beginning, we were going to look at every aspect of this, of every aspect of this shooter's life to determine not just why did he take these actions -- but who else knew about them? Was anyone else involved?"
Salman met Mateen online and the two married in 2011.
They lived in Fort Pierce, Florida, at the time of the shooting.
Mateen pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group in a 911 call during the three-hour standoff that ended in his death. Forty nine patrons were killed and another 53 were hospitalized.
"Nothing can erase the pain we all feel about the senseless and brutal murders of 49 of our neighbors, friends, family members and loved ones," Orlando Police Chief John Mina said Monday. "But today, there is some relief in knowing that someone will be held accountable for that horrific crime."
Philadelphia student athlete Akyra Murray, 18, who'd just graduated from West Catholic Prep High School, was among the victims. She'd even signed a National Letter of Intent to attend Mercyhurst College and play basketball on a full athletic scholarship.
Her friend, FOX 29 intern Patience Carter, survived the Pulse nightclub massacre. She was shot in her leg and described her ordeal.
Carter was also on vacation in Orlando with her best friend, Tiara Parker, who was Murray's cousin.
When the shooting started, Akyra and Patience made it out. They went back inside to find Parker when they were trapped in the bathroom with the shooter.