Orlando Gunman Surveilled Disney Complex, Pulse Nightclub Before Attack

Undated photo of Omar Mateen
Undated photo of Omar Mateen / AP
June 14, 2016

The gunman who killed 49 people at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, made a surveillance trip to a Disney shopping and entertainment complex earlier this month, according to authorities.

Omar Mateen, the gunman, also surveyed Pulse nightclub multiple times prior to his attack. A law enforcement official told CNN Wednesday Mateen’s trips to the club and Disney Springs occurred between June 1 and June 6.

The trips occurred during the annual Gay Days celebration at Walt Disney World between May 31 and June 6. The event draws more than 150,000 people to pay tribute to the LGBTQ community.

Law enforcement officials said Mateen was at Disney Springs the day before he attacked the nightclub. They believe the visits to the entertainment complex and Pulse were planned to survey the locations as soft targets for an attack.

Mateen’s visits to Disney Springs and Pulse occurred during the same period that he bought the weapons used in his attack on the nightclub Sunday.

The FBI is also looking into claims by Disney security officials that Mateen visited Disney World in late April to assess the location. Mateen’s wife, Noor Salman, was also on that trip.

Authorities are currently investigating Salman to determine whether she knew about her husband’s plans.

Mateen was interviewed by the FBI in 2013 and 2014 for possible terrorist links, but officials were unable to verify the accusations and ended the probe.

Mateen called 911 during the attack to pledge allegiance to ISIS, the terror group that claimed responsibility for attacks in Paris and Brussels. He also called the Boston Marathon bombers his "homeboys" during the call.

The 29-year-old gunman was killed Sunday after a shootout with police.