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Orlando Gunman Omar Mateen Purchased Plane Tickets for After Shooting: Official

by Pete Williams and Ayman Mohyeldin /  / Updated 
Image: FBI officials collect evidence at Pulse gay night club some days after mass shooting in Orlando
Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) officials collect evidence from the Pulse gay night club, the site of a mass shooting days earlier, in Orlando, Florida, June 15.ADREES LATIF / Reuters

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Gunman Omar Mateen made his final stand at an Orlando nightclub, but why did he buy plane tickets to the West Coast — on a flight two days after the shooting?

A federal official confirmed to NBC News Tuesday that Mateen made the purchase for his family to travel to Northern California to visit his ailing mother-in-law. Wife Noor Zahi Salman's mother recently had an operation and was not getting better, and the family was planning on spending an extended period of time with her.

Related: Friend Who Told FBI About Orlando Shooter Omar Mateen Saw a 'Red Flag'

The tickets were purchased two days before the June 12 attack to travel to San Francisco on July 14 for two weeks. It's unclear, however, why Mateen would have bought the tickets if he was planning the shooting, only to die in it.

Mateen, who lived two hours south of the club in Port St. Lucie, was armed with a semiautomatic rifle and 9mm semiautomatic pistol when he slaughtered 49 people and injured 53 others in the worst mass shooting in modern U.S. history, police said.

Federal law enforcement officials said Mateen, 29, arrived at Pulse around midnight — but he left and then came back to the nightclub about two hours later to gun down his victims.

Investigators are trying to determine what he was doing for that two-hour period.

In addition, after combing through his electronic devices and doing interviews, they have not found anything to indicate that he was ever at Pulse in the days, weeks or months before the day of the shooting.

Related: DOJ Giving $1 Million in Federal Funds to Orlando First Responders

Right before Mateen had left the night of the attack, Salman became suspicious of her husband and pleaded with him not to do anything, a source told NBC News, although she did not call authorities.

A source close to the family said Mateen sent his wife a text message during the rampage, asking her, "Do you see what's happening?" After swapping texts, she tried to call him. Later, federal agents arrived at her door.

Salman, who has not been charged for failing to report her husband to law enforcement, continues to cooperate with investigators, a source said.

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