Orlando Shooter May Have Scouted Disney World As Target

| by Katie Landoll
Costumed Disney World employees make heart shapes in a show of support for Orlando victims and their families. Kevin O'Brien/FacebookCostumed Disney World employees make heart shapes in a show of support for Orlando victims and their families. Kevin O'Brien/Facebook

Several sources are reporting the gunman responsible for the largest mass shooting in modern U.S. history scouted Walt Disney World as a possible target before his attack on an Orlando gay nightclub.

Police report Omar Mateen opened fire inside Pulse, an Orlando gay bar, around 2 a.m. on June 12. CNN reports that the gunman killed 49 people and wounded more than 50 others before being fatally shot by Orlando police.

New details are emerging about Mateen’s behavior in the weeks leading up to the massacre.

An unnamed federal law enforcement source reportedly told People magazine that Mateen investigated Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida, as a possible terror target.

Mateen’s wife, Noor Zahi Salman, told federal authorities that she visited several locations with her husband and that he had been “scouting Downtown Disney and Pulse for attacks,” People reports.

Downtown Disney, recently rebranded as Disney Springs, is a shopping and entertainment district on Disney’s Orlando property. Unlike the Disney theme parks, People says, the area does not have security checkpoints with bag checks at the entrances.

The Orlando Sentinel says area theme parks are on “high alert” in the wake of the shooting. Security at Disney World was already tightened after last year’s attacks in Paris, with metal detectors and additional staff added to entrances to the parks. Fox News reports that guards have been conducting thorough bag searches but are only required to search a random sampling of guests and not every person who enters the parks.

Fox News reports several of the victims of the nightclub attack were Orlando theme park employees. Many Disney park employees have posted photos making heart shapes to show support for the families of shooting victims. Kevin O’Brien, a theme park business veteran, has compiled more than 100 such pictures on his Facebook page, garnering more than 8,000 shares in a day.

Sources: People, Orlando Sentinel (2), Fox News, CNN / Photo credit: Kevin O'Brien/Facebook

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