The jury foreman in the concluded trial of Noor Salman -- widow of Pulse nightclub gunman Omar Mateen – said jurors were “convinced” she knew of the attack beforehand, but had “no option but to return a verdict of not guilty.”
In a statement provided to the Orlando Sentinel, the juror -- who requested to remain anonymous -- said “a verdict of not guilty did NOT mean that we thought Noor Salman was unaware of what Omar Mateen was planning to do,” rather that the jury was “not tasked with deciding if she was aware of a potential attack."
“On the contrary we were convinced she did know,” the statement continued. “She may not have known what day, or what location, but she knew.”
Mateen killed 49 people and wounded 58 others at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Fla., on June 12, 2016, before he was killed by police.
Salman avoided a potential life sentence Friday after she was found not guilty on charges of obstruction and aiding and abetting by attempting to provide material support to a terrorist organization – a controversial decision that left survivors frustrated and angry.
"What kind of message does this send to the world?" Tiara Parker, a survivors of the shooting, told Fox News on "The Story" on Friday. "This sends to the world that it's OK to do things like this. And that's not what we're here for."
The acquittal was “devastating" and "no justice was served,” she added.
Salman was acquitted of charges including lying to the FBI and aiding her husband in the attack.
Such negative reactions to the verdict prompted the jury foremen to issue the statement to the newspaper.
“I felt compelled to at least clarify several misconceptions,” expressing “sympathy to family and friends of the victims of this senseless tragedy,” the foreman said.
“I understand the desire to hold someone accountable for this heinous act of violence. Omar Mateen is dead. He cannot be punished,” the statement read. “It is only logical the world would look next to Noor Salman.”
The juror also acknowledged “there were several significant inconsistencies with the written summaries of her statements,” as the FBI did not record its interviews with Salaman following the attack, according to the paper.
However, the statement credited both the prosecution and defense for “an excellent job presenting their case.”
“The bottom line is that, based on the letter of the law, and the detailed instructions provided by the court, we were presented with no option but to return a verdict of not guilty,” the statement read.
Salman did not testify in her defense.