Saturday, March 24, 2018

Noor Salman Testimony Continues

 There is some sensitive content and disturbing details included within. If you feel you may be affected, please do not read this post.

William Braniff took the stand in the Noor Salman case as a terrorist expert. He is the Executive Director of the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START) and a Professor of the Practice at the University of Maryland. In general he took the stand to outline Omar Mateen's obsession with ISIS and to describe the violent online videos that call for violence in the west during Ramadan. On cross examination Charles Swift portrayed Omar Mateen as a lone wolf and he said that a partner would never offer aid unless they were converted to the ideological extremist views of their partner. William disagreed. In research papers it has been found that love can be a reason that a couple might work together for an extremist cause. The example was brought up of the Boston Bombers. One brother was the extremist and the other simply followed to stay close to his brothers views. Mateen had researched the Boston Bombers and he considered them comrades-in-arms.

Nelson Rodriguez took the stand to describe his night at the Pulse Nightclub. On June 11, 2016, he was a Florida highway patrolman who went to Pulse with friend Christopher SanFeliz to celebrate his graduation from police academy and connected with other friends, including Shane Tomlinson. Another friend Amanda showed up late that night. Immediately after last call, he heard shots ring out and the friends got separated. “It was dark,” he testified, “and I thought I was going to die that night. I just thank the heavenly father.”  Nelson dropped to the floor and crawled for cover.

The gunman paused his shooting and Nelson realized that he was reloading. it was time to move or die. He crawled towards the front entrance, but the gunman was blocking the exit. he changed his tack and crawled instead to the patio where people escaped over a fence. 

Once clear of the club, he called 911 and offered a description of the gunman to police. He got a call from his friend Amanda who was trapped inside the bathroom with the gunman during the three hour siege. After the gunman was shot Nelson began calling hospitals looking for Amanda. She had been shot multiple times, but survived. He could find no news of Christopher Sanfeliz or Shane Tomlinson and later learned that they had both died.

Officer Tyler Olson was an Orlando Police Department officer working extra duty the night of the Pulse shooting. He took the stand to further clarify the police response after the shooting by Omar Mateen at the Pulse Nightclub.

When Tyler arrived at the scene, he said he tried to enter the back of the club, but there was no entrance.
When he went around to enter from the front, he described that there were a large amount of people on the ground and said he didn't know the number of shooters at that point.
Police body camera video showed Olson carrying a victim to his truck. The woman screamed in agony when lifted into the truck and then screamed even louder when she had to be removed from the truck, presumably at the hospital. He got choked up describing the scene. This happened with nearly every officer that took the stand.

Outside the courtroom Christine Leinonen the mother of Drew Leinonen shouted her blame into a microphone for officers who testified. Their tears offer no comfort. Instead she blamed them for not saving her son that night.

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