A federal jury has found Noor Salman, the widow of the Pulse gunman, not guilty on all charges.
Salman faced charges of providing material support to a terrorist organization and obstruction of justice. Prosecutors said she knew about her husband’s plans for the 2016 mass shooting in Orlando that killed 49 people.
Salman initially told FBI agents that she knew her husband was planning the attack. However, her attorneys contended that her statements were coerced and were false.
Prosecutors spoke briefly to the media outside the courthouse after the verdict late Friday morning. They said they were disappointed with the verdict but respect the decision. Orlando Police Chief John Mina released a statement, saying he believes in the criminal justice system.
He thanked the jury for their work.
“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. I want to thank the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Florida and the FBI, who have worked tirelessly on this case in the quest for justice,” Mina said.
Barbara Poma, owner of the Pulse nightclub, did not answer questions outside the courthouse after the verdict was announced. After the verdict, people were standing outside the former nightclub, holding signs that read “We will not let hate win.”
A family spokeswoman said after the verdict that Noor Salman will go home to California to be with her son. Her uncles and aunt also spoke, and said the family is sorry for the family, friends and survivors of the attack.
They thanked the judge and jury, and the defense attorneys who worked pro bono for Salman.
Her uncle, Al Salman expressed gratitude towards the judge and jury. He said he doesn’t know how his niece will make up for the last two years away from her son.
“I believe in justice,” he said, “as long as we protect our justice all of us will be fine.”
In a statement, Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer said he hopes the conclusion of the trial will help the community heal.
“Hopefully the conclusion of the trial related to the Pulse tragedy can help our community continue the healing process,” Dyer said. “We remain committed to ensure those impacted by this tragedy receive the support they need through the Orlando United Assistance Center by calling 407-500-HOPE.”
Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings released a statement expressing his disappointment in the verdict.
“I am disappointed in the outcome of the trail and know the victims and/or their families are more disappointed,” Demings said. “This has been an emotional event for our community and many may feel that justice has not prevailed; however the system of justice has spoken and we should look to the continued healing for the families of our entire community so that this event will not define us.”
Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs said in a statement that she understood that the verdict will be a disappointment to some.
“I know that today’s verdict comes as a sharp and painful disappointment to so many in our community, but just as we reacted in those early hours and days after the Pulse tragedy – when we resisted the temptation to respond to hate with hate – I know that today our community will respond in that same manner, providing support to all those who are healing, including the families and loved ones of our 49 Pulse angels, and in particular, our LGBTQ, LatinX and Hispanic communities,” Jacobs said. “I’m confident that we will continue to demonstrate the principles of healing, compassion and peace.”
Defense attorney Fritz Scheller expressed his admiration for the survivors and families who were in the courtroom during the trial.
“It was a wonderful result and reaffirms my faith in the jury system, “ Scheller said.
Fellow defense attorney Charles Swift said he was impressed with the jury’s attentiveness and the seriousness that they showed during the trial.
“The more we learned the better Noor Salman looked,” said Swift. “When we looked at all of the facts it was clear to everyone.”
Salman’s attorneys said they would not discuss when their client would be released. They say she will go back to being a mother to her now 5-year-old son.