Suspects in San Bernardino shooting: What we know
WASHINGTON (Sinclair Broadcast Group) —
Much is still unknown about the suspects in Wednesday's mass shooting in San Bernardino, Calfiornia, but the details that have been revealed paint a somewhat unexpected picture of the two young parents believed to be responsible for the deadliest shooting in the U.S. since Sandy Hook.
Police say Syed Rizwan Farook, 28, and Tashfeen Malik, 27, were killed in a shootout with officers hours after the attack on the Inland Regional Center that left 14 dead and over a dozen others injured. Initial reports indicated a third shooter was involved, but San Bernardino Police Chief Jarrod Burguan said at an evening press conference that authorities are now "reasonably confident" that there were only two suspects.
Farook was an environmental health specialist with the county health department who inspected restaurants and hotels, and police say he had been attending an office holiday party in the building where the shooting occurred. Investigators believe he left the party angrily for some reason, returned with Malik, and opened fire.
According to police, they were wearing tactical gear and armed with semi-automatic hand guns and rifles. CNN reported that two of the guns were legally purchased by Farook, and two rifles were legally purchased by someone else who is currently not believed to be involved in the shooting.
Investigators found a bag in a conference room in the building after the shooting that contained rudimentary explosive devices rigged to a remote-controlled toy car, according to CNN.
No motive has been identified at this point, and the FBI said Wednesday night that there is not yet enough information to determine whether this was an act of terrorism.
According to the Greater Los Angeles Area chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the couple had a 6-month-old daughter who they left with relatives before the shooting, claiming they had a doctor's appointment.
Farhan Khan, the husband of Farook's sister, told reporters Wednesday that the family has "absolutely no idea" why they did this.
Co-workers told the Associated Press that Farook traveled to Saudi Arabia at some point, returned with a wife, and later grew a beard. According to the Washington Post, Hussam Ayloush, executive director of the Los Angeles CAIR chapter, said Farook and Malik had been married for two years.
Farook is an American citizen who was born in Illinois. Ayloush said Malik was born in Pakistan.
According to the Los Angeles Times, co-workers said Farook generally seemed quiet but happy and appeared to be "living the American dream." He was known to be a devout Muslim, but former co-worker Griselda Reisinger told the paper he "never struck me as a fanatic."
"He was very religious. He would go to work, come back, go to pray, come back," Farook's father told the New York Daily News.
Online profiles that appear to belong to Farook provide a few additional details. In one, he describes himself as religious but modern, and says he enjoys working on vintage and modern cars, reading religious books, and "doing target practice" with his sister and friends. Another profile under the same user name on a site devoted to people seeking spouses from the United Arab Emirates lists Farook as a Sunni Muslim born in Chicago in 1987.
A baby registry on TheBump.com in Malik's name indicates a baby due date of May 17, 2015, but it only has a few items on it. Little else has been reported about her.
A home where the couple is believed to have lived in Redlands, California was searched by police on Wednesday night. Officers entered the house very cautiously out of fear that explosives may have been planted there.
Neighbors told reporters they were surprised the shooters lived in the area. One man who had been working in the area told KCAL he noticed several Middle Eastern men in the neighborhood recently, but he had not reported it to authorities.