A married couple killed 14 people and wounded 21 others in a shooting rampage Wednesday during a holiday party at a social services center in San Bernardino, Calif. They also left behind a remote-controlled bomb that failed to detonate before they fled in an SUV and were later killed in a police shootout.
Who Were They?
Syed Rizwan Farook and his wife Tashfeen Malik were believed to be behind the attacks, police said. Farook was a 28-year-old U.S. citizen who worked as a health department inspector for San Bernardino County for five years. He was at a holiday party with coworkers at the Inland Regional Center but stormed off after an apparent dispute, San Bernardino Police Chief Jarrod Burguan said. “He left on some sort of duress as if he was angry,” Burguan said.
Farook later returned with Malik and opened fire on the party-goers, police said. They left their 6-month-old baby with their grandmother.
Police said the couple had thousands of bombs and bullets inside their home in Redlands, Ca. Four guns used the shooting were purchased legally, authorities said.
Colleagues of Farook told the LA Times he was a devout Muslim. About two weeks before the incident, he had a heated conversation about Islam with a coworker, 52-year-old Nicholas Thalasinos, who was killed in the shooting.
What Was Their Motive Behind The Shooting?
Authorities say the couple’s motive is still unclear. President Obama said Thursday that it is “possible” the California shooting was related to terrorism, but that it could also be workplace related. A U.S. law enforcement official told the Associated Press that Malik, using an alias, pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group and the terror group’s leader on Facebook and then deleted the messages before the attack.
How Did They Meet?
It’s unclear how and where Farook and Malik met. Farook brought his then-fiance to the U.S. in July 2014, according to David Bowdich, assistant director of the FBI’s Los Angeles field office. Malik had a Pakistani passport, officials said.
On his 2014 trip, Farook visited Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, officials said. The Saudi embassy in D.C. said he spent nine days in the country in the summer of 2014.
Malik was in the country on a K-1 visa, which is issued to the fiancé of a U.S. citizen to enter the country, according to the FBI. They married at some point after she came into the country and had a child about six months ago.