Wife of Pulse nightclub attacker Omar Mateen arrested

The wife of the man behind the deadly terrorist attack at Pulse nightclub in Orlando will face a federal judge Tuesday in California.

FBI agents arrested Noor Salman on Monday — seven months after the shooting that left 49 dead and dozens more injured — at her home outside San Francisco. The charges are obstruction of justice and aiding and abetting by providing material support to a terrorist organization, a law enforcement source told the Orlando Sentinel.

Salman, 30, is scheduled to make an initial appearance at 9:30 a.m. in court in Oakland. She is expected to return to Central Florida to face the charges.

Investigators spent hours interviewing Salman after the June 12 shooting, trying to determine what she knew about her husband Omar Mateen's plans to carry out the attack on the gay nightclub.

She told the FBI she accompanied her husband to Pulse at least once before the rampage, investigators said. She also said she was with him when he bought ammunition. Records show Mateen texted her during a three-hour standoff, saying he intended to "blow the place up."

Her story changed during the first few days after the shooting, sources have said, and during one interview she reportedly told investigators that she warned her husband the day of the attack not to carry it out.

Details on what led federal prosecutors to file the charges are expected to be available Tuesday.

Orlando Police Chief John Mina said he was pleased that Salman was arrested.

"Federal authorities have been working tirelessly on this case for more than seven months, and we are grateful that they have seen to it that some measure of justice will be served in this act of terror that has affected our community so deeply," he said in a statement.

Gov. Rick Scott also released a statement saying he hopes the arrest will provide "some comfort to the families who are mourning their loved ones."

Mateen, who was 29, was killed during a shootout with an Orlando Police SWAT team. He held terrified and injured patrons hostage in a bathroom throughout the standoff until the SWAT team rushed in.

It was the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history, with at least 68 hurt in addition to those killed.

Survivors on Monday thanked authorities for their thorough investigation to make sure anyone who could have helped Mateen is held accountable.

"I really think this will help us heal, because so many of us have been curious and have so many questions," said Orlando Torres, one of the former hostages. "I don't think it's going to open wounds or bring back bad memories. If anything, I think this is going to help us move on."

Chris Littlestar, who was shot five times, said the FBI called him and told him the news of Salman's arrest.

"I think it was their way of reassuring us that she was arrested and behind bars," said Littestar, adding he thinks Salman "should be held accountable and charged for what she deserves."

Club owner Barbara Poma released a statement lauding the arrest. "What is most important is justice for the families, victims and all others affected," she wrote. "My hope is that this helps in the journey of healing."

Salman's lawyer, Linda Moreno, said in a statement to ABC News that her client "had no foreknowledge nor could she predict what Omar Mateen intended to do that tragic night."

Moreno said Salman was abused by her husband and thinks the FBI is "misguided and wrong to prosecute her and that it dishonors the memories of the victims to punish an innocent person," the statement reads.

Salman's relationship with Mateen, a security guard from Port St. Lucie, began online, a neighbor told the Los Angeles Times after the shooting. They were married in Hercules, in Contra Costa County, Calif., on Sept. 29, 2011.

Salman filed a petition in California courts to change her child's name in December. The 4-year-old is named Zakariaya Omar Mateen, which identifies him as the son of the mass shooter.

She has moved several times since the shooting — the family was living in Fort Pierce in June — and now lives in her native California.

In October, she had an interview with The New York Times to discuss her life in the aftermath of the shooting.

Salman told the newspaper that the attack left her "shattered and afraid." She also said she often depended on family members "to take care of her son."

After the Boston Marathon bombings in April 2013, investigators spoke with attacker Tamerlan Tsarnaev's widow several times to find out whether she was involved in her husband's plan.

In the new film "Patriots Day," Katherine Russell is portrayed as being uncooperative with investigators, according to the Associated Press. Her attorney has said the depiction is untrue.

Russell, 27, who is raising the daughter she had with Tsarnaev, was not charged.

Staff writer Christal Hayes contributed to this report. sallen@orlandosentinel.com or 407-420-5417

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