Omar Mateen nursed a drink at Pulse for more than 10 minutes in the early hours of June 12, 2016. He had walked into the bar around 1:30 a.m. and nonchalantly bought a ticket before sitting at the bar and ordering his drink. A timeline video shown in federal court Thursday morning shows the shooter scanning the crowd before leaving the club to grab his weapon. Inside, clubgoers continued to dance until the gun shots began. Then many of them instantly fell to the ground, still. A group rushed to hide together before Mateen walked over and opened fire into the huddle.
Noor Salman wept in court as the video played. When prosecutors later showed photographs of Mateen's dead body, she turned her head away from the image. Through the morning, more gory images of bodies laying on the ground projected on screens for all in court, including family members of the dead, to see.
Mateen's widow could face life in prison if convicted of aiding a terrorist and obstructing justice. Much of the evidence is becoming public for the first time in the trial.
FBI agents testified Thursday that when they went inside Pulse for the first time after one of the deadliest mass shootings in American history, they stepped over bodies and walked carefully around pools of blood, looking for a handful of especially important pieces of evidence: a digital recording from surveillance videos, the guns that caused so much destruction, and Mateen's cell phone. The last item they found in a bathroom beside the body of the shooter, laying in a pool of water and blood -- his own and that of eight other people found dead in the same room.
That cell phone could prove critical in proving the charges against Salman. Prosecutors say Salman texted Mateen while he drove to Orlando to tell him Mateen's mother had invited the couple for dinner but Salman had said Mateen was out with a friend. Mateen also sent Salman a text asking if she'd seen the news and to tell her he loved her, shortly before he died in a shootout with law enforcement.
FBI agents Paul Castillo and Lynne Billings testified about what happened after taking over the scene. Besides Mateen, 49 people died as a result of Pulse. In total, Billings says 39 bodies were found inside Pulse. Two other victims died outside behind a nearby Einstein's Bagels, where they fled after escaping the club before being treated by paramedics without success. First responders took dozens of people with gunshot injuries to nearby hospitals, where the remainder of the victims died. In addition to the 49 innocents killed, 53 were seriously injured.
Above: Noor Salman. Courtroom sketches by Charles Treadwell
Jurors were shown graphic photos of bodies lying around the club. One showed four bodies laying by the main bar. Another showed a victim killed on the patio, where Mateen at one point also exchanged fire with law enforcement.
When FBI agents got to the body of Mateen, his pants were down to expose the holster where he kept his Glock G17. His long gun, a Sig Sauer MCX was found near his feet, while the pistol remained attached to his wrist with a bracelet. Salman wept in court as police played video of the final shootout with her husband. She turned her head away from pictures of his corpse laying on a restroom floor.
As prosecutors thumbed through evidence, they showed pictures of a black-tiled bathroom wall riddled with bullet marks, each one identified by a number of a piece of tape. Yellow evidence tents could be seen over shell casings and magazine clips tossed into pools of blood after Mateen exhausted the rounds.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Sara Sweeney also pulled up the receipts from when Mateen purchased his Sig Sauer and his Glock from the same Port St. Lucie gun shop. Both weapons had been purchased shortly before the shooting -- the long gun on June 4, the pistol on June 5. He didn't pick up the Glock until June 9.