Dead shooters ID’d as Muslim husband-wife team

By Cheryl Chumley

Police in San Bernardino respond to a mass shooting. (Credit: CNN)
Police in San Bernardino respond to a mass shooting. (Credit: CNN)

The San Bernardino shooters who were killed by police, Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik, have been identified by law enforcement as a Muslim husband and wife team who began their day by dropping their 6-month-old baby at a family member’s home, saying they were headed out to a doctor’s appointment.

The news comes as San Bernardino Police Chief Jarrod Burean told reporters at a Thursday morning press conference “we still don’t have a motive for the shooting.”

The Telegraph reported the FBI said of the assault “this may or may not have been a terrorist attack.” They’re currently talking to those who knew the couple to see what clues may point to terrorism versus some other motive, and how many others might have been involved.

Farook, 28, and Malik, 27, were named as the shooters in the Wednesday killing of 14 and injuring of 24 at a Christmas party attended by San Bernardino County employees.

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Other possible suspects are still being sought, but both Farook and Malik were shot and killed by police who responded to the scene.

Reuters reported the couple started their day by dropping their baby girl off at the Redlands home of Farook’s mother, telling her they needed to go to a medical appointment.

Farook actually attended the Christmas party, sat for a brief time but left and returned later with Malik.

Syed Farook

The two stormed the party, decked out in armored gear and masks, and carting assault weapons, and began shooting up the scene, unleashing between 65 and 75 rounds,. Fox News reported they didn’t say anything, but simply walked into the facility, opened fire, emptied their magazines, then reloaded and opened fire again. They fled from the scene in a black SUV and by sunset, were killed by police in a shootout. Police also found several pipe bombs and makeshift explosive devices at the site of the massacre.

CNN reported authorities found 2,000 9 mm rounds and 2,500 .223 rifle rounds  at the couple’s home, 12 or so pipe bombs and hundreds of devices and products that “could be used to construct IEDs or pipe bombs,” Burguan said. “We still don’t have a motive … [but] they were equipped … and they could have done another attack.”

CNN also reported Farook was apparently radicalized by individuals the FBI was investigating for international terrorism.

Farook had spent several weeks in Saudi in 2013 on the Hajj, the annual pilgrammage to Mecca Muslims have to take at least once in their lives, two government officials told CNN. During the trip, he met Malik, who traveled to the United States on a “fiancee visa.”

Another government official said Farook had spoken via phone and social media with a couple, if not more, individuals being investigated for terrorism.

“Here’s what we know,” said Republican presidential candidate Carly Fiorina on “Fox & Friends” on Thursday. “These are mass murderers who are Muslim, and they’ve recently returned from Saudi Arabia.”

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Burean also clarified at his Thursday press conference “all four guns [recovered from the shooters] were legally purchased” and “appeared to be registered.” The couple drove a rental car with Utah license plates that had been rented “three or four days ago,” he said.

Reuters reported Farook was born in Illinois and worked as an environmental health specialist for the county. His job entailed inspecting restaurants and checking for health violations, as well as inspecting swimming pools at apartments, housing complexes and country clubs for contaminants.

The Christmas party he attended was for fellow Department of Health employees. His co-workers said they knew he was Muslim, but he didn’t really talk about it. But they said he only started growing a beard in recent months.

San Bernardino police chief Jarrod Burguan told Reuters the assault had been clearly planned.

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Farook and Malik had been married for two years, said the Council on American Islamic Relations. And Hussam Ayloush, executive director of the Los Angeles chapter of CAIR, told Reuters the two were the parents of the baby girl.

SueAnn Chapman, a waitress at China Doll Fast Food, a restaurant that Farook inspected earlier this year, said his demeanor didn’t raise any red flags to her.

“He was real quiet,” she said, the Telegraph reported. “He checked the food and said he was here because somebody complained. … [But] he looked completely normal.”

Reuters reported Farook’s family came from South Asia, and Malik was thought to have hailed from Pakistan, but lived in Saudi Arabia before coming to America. Farook also had an older brother who served in the U.S. military, Ayloush said.

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The Daily Caller reported Farook’s dating profile on the Internet site showed he self-identified as a Sunni Muslim, and that liked to read religious books and engage in target practice with guns with his younger sister.

He wrote in his narrative, the Daily Caller reported: “I work for county as health, safety and [environmental] inspector. Enjoy working on vintage and modern cars, read religious books, enjoy eating out sometimes travel and just hang out in back yard doing target practice with younger sister and friends.”

U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch, meanwhile, said the federal government was ready to provide assistance in the investigation in whatever capacity was needed.

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“Whatever the results of this investigation,” she said, during a Thursday morning televised statement, “violence like that has no place in this country and this nation.”

Thursday, FBI assistant director of the Los Angeles office, David Bowdich, said the investigation would take time.

“I ask you to be patient. We are trying to give you little facts as we can,” Bowdich said, in televised comment. “We have multiple scenes, we have many victims and this will take time.”

He also said the agency was flying evidence back to the Washington, D.C., office for a quick evaluation, including digital media believed to be key to identifying the shooters’ motives.

During the course of investigating the couple, police used a battering ram to enter the Redlands home belonging to Farook’s mother. out of concern the residence was booby-trapped with explosives, CBC Los Angeles reported it was thought Farook’s sister lived there, as well.

Neighbors said they were shocked to learn the identities of the shooters.

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“I was in awe that it was happening four houses down from my property,” one Redlands resident told CBS.

Another man whose work had brought him into the neighborhood in recent days said he had noticed several Middle Easterners in the area in the last few weeks. But he said he didn’t want to report their presence because he worried about being labeled a racial profiler.

“We sat around lunch thinking, ‘What were they doing around the neighborhood?’ We’d see them leave,” he said, to CBS, “where they’re raiding the apartment.”

The chairman of the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors, James Ramos, said government offices have been closed for the rest of the week, except for the most essential of service agencies.

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Dead shooters ID’d as Muslim husband-wife team

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