The horrific shootings at the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino, California claimed the lives of 14 innocent victims as well as the two shooters, plus 17 were injured. It was the nation’s deadliest mass shooting since the attack at a school in Newtown, Connecticut, three years ago that killed 26.
The San Bernardino Shooting
The killers are Syed Rizwan Farook, 28, and Tashfeen Malik, 27, who is his wife or fiancee. Around 11 a.m. PST the heavily armed couple dressed in tactical gear barged into the center, which is 60 miles east of Los Angeles. They opened fire in a conference area where county health officials were having an employee banquet.
About four hours after the carnage, authorities found the two murderers only two miles from the social services center and a police chase ensued. Gunfire was exchanged and pipe bombs were thrown during at police during the pursuit. Police unloaded on the black SUV, leaving the truck riddled with bullets. Farook and Malik were killed during the shootout, one of the suspects was laying in a pool of blood in the street, while the other remained in the SUV. Thankfully, only one officer among nearly two dozen involved in the shootout was harmed, suffering a minor injury from a ricocheting bullet.
Farook and Malik were dressed in tactical clothing and were armed with assault rifles and semi-automatic handguns. The weapons found were two long guns and two pistols. Meredith Davis of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives said all four guns were bought legally four years ago. However, she did not say whether they were purchased out of state or how and when they got into the hands of the two shooters.
A third person, who was spotted running near the attack was detained, but San Bernardino Police Chief Jarrod Burguan said it was unclear if that person had anything to do with the crime. “We are reasonably confident at this point that we have two shooters and we have two dead suspects,” Burguan said in a press conference late Wednesday night.
“They came prepared to do what they did, as if they were on a mission,” Burguan said. A bag believed to belong to the shooters was found inside the conference room contained three rudimentary explosive devices packed with black powder and rigged to a remote-controlled car. The remote for the car was found inside the SUV where Farook and Malik were later killed, a law enforcement official said. This means that the couple expected to inflict even more casualties from the safety of their car.
Local authorities and the FBI are investigating several possible motives, including workplace violence, a personal conflict and terrorism.
The Deadly Holiday Party
Farook attended the holiday gathering on Wednesday morning with dozens of his colleagues from San Bernardino County’s public health department. The social services center, which serves some 30,000 clients with disabilities, has two large buildings that require a badge to gain entry. However, the conference room where a work holiday party as well as the slaughter took place, hosts public events is usually left open when visitors are expected.
Coworkers said Syed seemed quiet during the day, then vanished just as a group photo was about to be taken. During the banquet, there was some type of dispute, and Farook left the gathering angrily. Farook returned with his wife and they opened fire on his coworkers. A witness said that Farook matched the physical description of one of the shooters.
Syed Rizwan Farook’s Job
Syed Rizwan Farook was a restaurant inspector for the San Bernardino County’s public health department for the last five years and documents show that his 2013 salary was $71,230.
Farook’s Family & Personal Life
Patrick Baccari, a fellow health inspector who shared a cubicle with Farook, told the Los Angeles Times that Farook recently traveled to Saudi Arabia and returned with a new beard and a wife who he had met online. The couple had a baby and appeared to be “living the American dream,” Baccari said.
On Wednesday morning, the couple dropped off their 6-month-old daughter with relatives. They told them that they had a doctor’s appointment, Hussam Ayloush, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said after talking with family. “We unequivocally condemn the horrific act that occurred today,” Ayloush also said.
Farhan Khan, who is married to Farook’s sister, told reporters, “I am in shock that something like this can happen.” He went on to say that he has “no idea … why he (Farook) would do something like this.” He declined to comment when asked if Farook was religious. However, Farook’s father told the New York Daily News, “He was very religious. He would go to work, come back, go to pray, come back. He’s Muslim.”
Farook had a profile set up on iMilap.com, which describes itself as a site that “offers services for those looking to either make friends or find a marriage partner.” The profile stated that he “enjoys working on vintage and modern cars, reads religious books, enjoys eating out sometimes. “Enjoys traveling and just hanging out in the back yard doing target practice with his younger sister and friends.”
He said he was from a secular family, but the same profile also said that he came from a Muslim family with “Eastern and Western” family values.
Farook is American-born and is a native of Illinois, and his family was originally from Pakistan. Malik was believed to be from Pakistan and had lived in Saudi Arabia before coming to the United States. Farook had an older brother, who has the same name, but different middle name. He served in the U.S. military and works for the Board of Equalization as a business tax representative.
Farook’s Troubled Past
Public records suggests Farook had a troubled family life. In 2006, Rafia Farook, Syed’s mother, filed in a Riverside court for divorce from her husband, also named Syed Farook.
In the legal filing there were references to several instances of domestic abuse, and Rafia claimed that her ex-husband “threatens to kill himself on a daily basis.” In one scary incident, Rafia said that Farook had to intervene “to save me.”
President Obama’s Reaction
President Barack Obama forcefully condemned the “pattern” of mass shootings and urged the nation to take steps to reduce mass shootings, including stricter gun laws and stronger background checks.
“It does appear that there are going to be some casualties, and obviously our hearts go out to the victims and the families. We don’t know that much yet. The one thing we do know is that we have a pattern now of mass shootings in this country that has no parallel anywhere else in the world. We should never that think this is something that just happens in the ordinary course of events because it doesn’t happen with the same frequency in other countries.”
There are some steps we could take, not to eliminate every one of these mass shootings, but to improve the odds that they don’t happen as frequently. That includes ‘common sense gun safety laws’ and “stronger background checks, as well as making use of the no-fly list.
For those who are concerned about terrorism, some may be aware of the fact that we have a no-fly list where people can’t get on planes, but those same people who we don’t allow to fly could go into a store right now in the United States and buy a firearm, and there’s nothing we can do to stop them. That’s a law that needs to be changed.”