Gunman's Wife Says She Tried to Talk Him Out of Attack, Officials Say

Posted at 1:26 PM, Jun 14, 2016
and last updated 2016-06-14 13:26:59-04

Noor Mateen, the 30-year-old wife of Omar Mateen, the shooter at the Orlando gay club massacre, is being considered for criminal charges, officials say. A law enforcement official told ABC News that Noor Mateen may have known something about the incident in advance but claims she tried to talk him out of the assault.

Law enforcement officials told ABC News that she drove with her husband to the Pulse nightclub at least once in the past.

News of the potential involvement of Noor Mateen comes just moments after doctors at Orlando Health, a hospital where first responders took victims of the shooting, warned that the death toll may rise in the wake of the shooting.

A press conference was held this morning at the hospital to provide updates about the status of survivors of the attack. Dr. Michael Cheatham informed the press that of the 44 patients that were taken to his hospital, 27 were still being treated. Of those 27, six patients were critically ill, he added.

Cheatham said that he would be surprised if the death toll did not rise.

Angel Colon, a survivor of the attack, told the story of his ordeal at the club and expressed his gratitude to the doctors at the hospital. The young man wiped tears from his eyes as he described being shot in the leg and collapsing on the ground, where he was trampled by fleeing clubgoers. He also expressed gratitude to a police officer who dragged him out of the club. Colon said that the floor of Pulse was littered with broken glass and that he could sense that his body was wet with blood.

"If it wasn't for you guys, I wouldn't be here," Colon said to the staff of the hospital, his voice shaking with emotion. "I will love you guys forever."

Doctors who were called to the scene in the wake of the massacre described the trauma center at Orlando Health as resembling a war scene. They described the herculean effort that was required of staffers in order to meet the demands created by the bloodshed. Cheatham called it a "team effort."

Omar Mateen was said to be a regular at Pulse and other gay clubs in Florida, according to witnesses. Estella Peterkin, the head of security at Pulse, told ABC News she had to kick him out for bad behavior on multiple occasions.

The shooting began at about 2:30 a.m. Sunday, when Mateen approached Pulse armed with a .223 caliber AR-type rifle and a Glock handgun. He engaged in gunfire with an officer stationed outside the club, entered and sprayed the venue with bullets. He killed 49 people and injured 53 others in the attack. After three hours, police killed Mateen in an exchange of gunfire.

Mateen, of St. Lucie County, Florida, was an American citizen with Afghan parents. Mateen's ex-wife, Sitora Yusifiy, told ABC News that he was a "sick person" and was abusive to her in their marriage.

Many Florida Muslims have responded to the Pulse shooting with condemnation.

The FBI told reporters Monday that Mateen spoke with police three times from the club during the attack. He called and hung up, called again and spoke with a dispatcher. The dispatcher then returned his call, according to the FBI.

Mateen was "cool and calm" during their conversations, according to police, and didn't make any demands. One survivor of the attack, however, said he heard Mateen say he wanted the U.S. to "stop bombing ISIS in Syria."

In his phone exchange with police, Mateen pledged allegiance to the terrorist group ISIS and referred the 2013 Boston Marathon bombers, Tamerlan Tsarnaev and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, officials said. He also mentioned Moner Abusalha, an American suicide bomber in Syria.

The FBI said in a statement Monday that Mateen was interviewed by authorities in 2014 because of alleged ties to Abusalha, the son of a Palestinian father and an American mother, who died on May 24, 2014, at the age of 22. Abusalha drove a truck packed with explosives into a government outpost in Syria and detonated the charge.

Vigils were held last night to honor victims of the Pulse shooting. Orlando's tight-knit LGBT community continues to grieve.