In the weeks and months following the Pulse nightclub mass shooting in Orlando, Florida, police did as they always do, and they watched the family of the alleged shooter very closely to see if maybe anyone else in the clan was involved. In the aftermath, the wife of the shooter, Noor Salman, was arrested for giving material help to a foreign terrorist and lying to the FBI. This week, she was acquitted of that crime.
A visibly anxious Salman, wearing a dark suit, stood in federal court as the verdict was read. She wept and heaved as her attorneys — one of them also crying — embraced her. She looked back at her relatives.
“Thank you,” she whispered to her attorneys.
An uncle, seated in court behind her, stifled a sob as other relatives held one another.
As Salman left the courtroom, she looked back at her family again, her eyes red and teary.
“Noor can go home now to her son, resume her life and try to pick up the pieces from two years in jail,” Salman family spokeswoman Susan Clary said, adding that the relatives were grateful for the verdict.
The jury deliberated for more than two days. Careful examination was given to the evidence produced in court. The truth of whether or not Salman is truly guilty may never be known, but for now, without a conviction, she is free.
According to the defense attorneys, the prosecution did not prove their case.
Defense attorney Charles Swift said the prosecution failed to deliver on its promises to the jury.
“The more we learned,” he said, “the better Noor Salman looked.”
For the Orlando community, this verdict is by no means the end of life as they know it. It is just something to bury as the community goes on.
Barbara Poma, founder of the onePulse Foundation, a nonprofit seeking to erect a memorial and museum at the former nightclub, said Mateen was the triggerman and “he should not have one more minute of power over our lives.”
“This verdict cannot and will not divide us,” she said in a statement. “The survivors, families, and first responders, as well as the community of Orlando and everyone around the world, must now focus on the work ahead of us. We will always carry the pain of what happened at Pulse, and we will never forget those who were taken.”
Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer sad on Twitter that the trial’s conclusion will help the community heal.
“We can never bring back the 49 innocent victims whose lives were taken on June 12, 2016, or erase the pain that the horrific act brought to so many, but we remain focused on helping the victims and family members continue the healing process,” Dyer said in statement.