The Pulse nightclub may not have been Omar Mateen’s first choice as a place to carry out a mass shooting, but other sites he drove to the same night – including Disney properties – appear to have had tighter security.
According to court documents filed in US District Court on Monday, the 29-year-old security guard may have been considering other targets, and the final selection of the Pulse appears to have been made based on the lack of security – not because it was a gay club.
These revelations and others in the defense motion outline for the first time some of the government’s evidence surrounding the shooting, which it plans to use in the trial of Mateen’s widow, Noor Salman.
Here’s a description of Mateen’s actions the night of the attack, culminating in his death:
Scouting other sites?
About 10 p.m. on June 11, 2016, Mateen went to Disney Springs, just outside Orlando. The shopping and dining complex would likely have been busy on that warm Saturday evening, with families and groups of friends walking around or waiting in line to get into some of the more popular spots.
Security camera video and police records show the outdoor venue was well secured, with several uniformed police officers walking around, the court documents said.
About two hours later, according to cell tower data investigators used to determine Mateen’s path that night, he drove near Walt Disney World’s Epcot. It’s another popular tourist attraction for families, and was probably busy on the balmy weekend night.
Then, at 12:22 a.m. on June 12, Mateen searched Google for “downtown Orlando nightclubs.” A club called EVE Orlando and the Pulse nightclub showed in the results, and he got directions from Google Maps to EVE, which bills itself as a high-end nightclub and upscale lounge. EVE features DJs and live music, and is located in a busy downtown area, close to several other clubs and restaurants.
Mateen got near EVE about 12:55 a.m. The defense says it will present evidence that EVE has substantial security at its entrance and that people are searched before they can enter.