California shootings: Shooters identified as couple Tashfeen Malik and Syed Farook

Sydney Morning Herald

Police identify the suspects responsible for killing at least 14 people in San Bernardino, California as Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik who were in 'some type of relationship'.

On Wednesday morning, Syed Rizwan Farook, 28, and his partner Tashfeen Malik, 27, dropped off their six-month-old baby with Farook's mother, saying they were going to a doctor's appointment.

By noon, according to police, the couple had donned assault clothing, armed themselves with rifles and stormed a holiday party attended by San Bernardino County employees, killing 14 people and wounding 17 others.

Before sunset, after a shootout with police, they were both dead, leaving a grieving community with few clues to puzzle out the motive for the carnage.

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San Bernardino Police Chief Jarrod Burguan said it was now thought just two shooters were involved in the spree at a disability centre which killed 14 people. Earlier, there had been speculation of a third shooter.

Burguan said that the shooting spree had clearly been planned in advance and that the suspects left several explosive devices, which appeared to be pipe bombs, at the scene of the massacre.

Each had an assault rifle and a semiautomatic handgun when they died, he said.

Sydney Morning Herald

The brother-in-law of Syed Farook speaks at The Council on American-Islamic Relations.

HOLIDAY PARTY KILLINGS

Dressed in black face masks and tactical gear, armed with long guns and pistols, the pair entered the Inland Regional Centre in San Bernardino -  a social services office that aids people with developmental disabilities - where a holiday party for health workers was in full swing.

Before they fled, Farook and Malik had killed 14 people and wounded 17.

A police officer keeps watch in in San Bernardino, California.
MIKE BLAKE / REUTERS

A police officer keeps watch in in San Bernardino, California.

Four hours later authorities chased a black SUV carrying the pair from a Redlands home.

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As TV news stations broadcast live overhead, they traded gunfire with police. When the gunfight was over, both were dead.

A police officer was wounded in the firefight but was expected to survive.

REUTERS

Heavily-armed police in Southern California respond to the scene of an active shooter in San Bernardino where early reports say 20 people may have been shot.

A LOOK AT THE SUSPECTS

Farook was born in the United States and worked as an environmental health specialist for San Bernardino County, inspecting restaurants for health violations, according to authorities and a website that tracks public employees.

As part of his job, he also inspected public pools at locations including apartment and senior housing complexes, and country clubs. Records show him performing these duties as recently as July.

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On Wednesday, he attended the annual holiday gathering for employees of his department, but then left, returning later with weaponry and Malik.

Police surround a black SUV which after a shootout left two suspects in the San Bernardino massacre dead.
MARIO ANZUONI

Police surround a black SUV which after a shootout left two suspects in the San Bernardino massacre dead.

SueAnn Chapman, a cashier and waitress at China Doll Fast Food, a restaurant that Syed Farook inspected earlier this year for his job with the county, said he didn't seem unusual when he turned up.

"He was real quiet," Chapman said. "He checked the food and said he was here because somebody complained ... He looked completely normal."

Burguan said he did not know whether Farook and Malik were wed, but officials with the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), who had been in touch with the family, said they had been married for two years and had a six-month-old baby girl.

Police officers gather in Bernardino, California after a mass shooting killed 14 people.
MIKE BLAKE/REUTERS

Police officers gather in Bernardino, California after a mass shooting killed 14 people.

CAIR's Los Angeles chapter executive director Hussam Ayloush said the couple left the baby with Farook's mother in the nearby city of Redlands early on Wednesday morning, relaying information he got from the brother-in-law of Farook.

They told her they were going to attend a doctor's appointment for the wife.

Farook's family was originally from South Asia, while Malik was believed to be from Pakistan and had lived in Saudi Arabia before coming to the United States, Ayloush said. Farook had an older brother, he added, who had served in the US military.

REUTERS MARIO ANZUONI/REUTERS MARIO ANZUONI REUTERS HANDOUT HANDOUT REUTERS REUTERS REUTERS REUTERS REUTERS REUTERS REUTERS REUTERS REUTERS

Rescue crews tend to the injured following a shooting incident in the intersection outside the Inland Regional Centre in San Bernardino, California.

A spent cartrdige lies on the ground as police officers secure the area after at least one person opened fire at a social services agency in San Bernardino, California.

Police officers secure the area after at least one person opened fire at a social services agency in San Bernardino, California.

A still image from a video footage courtesy of Nbcla.com shows first responders responding to a shooting in San Bernardino, California.

A still image from a video footage courtesy of Nbcla.com shows first responders transporting an injured person at a shooting in San Bernardino, California.

A still image from a video footage courtesy of Nbcla.com shows first responders transporting an injured person at a shooting in San Bernardino, California.

Rescue crews tend to the injured in the intersection outside the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino, California.

Emergency services are responding to reports of an active shooter at the Inland Regional Centre, a facility for people with developmental disabilities.

Emergency services are responding to reports of an active shooter at the Inland Regional Centre, a facility for people with developmental disabilities.

Emergency services are responding to reports of an active shooter at the Inland Regional Centre, a facility for people with developmental disabilities.

Emergency services are responding to reports of an active shooter at the Inland Regional Centre, a facility for people with developmental disabilities.

Emergency services are responding to reports of an active shooter at the Inland Regional Centre, a facility for people with developmental disabilities.

Emergency services are responding to reports of an active shooter at the Inland Regional Centre, a facility for people with developmental disabilities.

Emergency services are responding to reports of an active shooter at the Inland Regional Centre, a facility for people with developmental disabilities.

Emergency services are responding to reports of an active shooter at the Inland Regional Centre, a facility for people with developmental disabilities.

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Public records suggest possible turbulence in Farook's younger life.

In 2006, Rafia Farook, who records indicate is Farook's mother, filed in a Riverside court for divorce from her husband, also named Syed Farook.

She enumerated multiple instances of domestic abuse in the legal filing, and said her husband "threatens to kill himself on a daily basis." During one incident, she said in a court filing, her son came between them "to save me."

SUSPECT'S BROTHER IN LAW SPEAKS

Farook's brother-in-law said he did not know what had motivated the attack.

"I have no idea why he would do something like this," Farhad Khan told a press conference.

Khan offered his condolences to the victims.

"I cannot express how sad I am for what happened today," he said.

A federal law enforcement source told the Los Angeles Times that the suspects hurled pipe bombs and other improvised explosive devices at police during the pursuit.

The motive for the attack remained unclear.

"Is this a terrorist incident? We do not know," said David Bowdich, the assistant director of the FBI's Los Angeles field office.

During a news briefing, Burguan said information about the party being the focus of the attack was "preliminary" and declined to comment on a motive for the shooting.

"We have no information at this point to indicate that this is terrorist related, in the traditional sense that people may be thinking," Burguan said. "Obviously, at a minimum, we have a domestic terrorist-type situation that occurred here."

Hundreds of people were on the grounds at the time of the attack, Burguan said.

Inland Regional Centre officials said the conference room where the party was taking place can hold up to 200 people.

"THEY'RE ALL GEARED UP!"

Chaos followed the gunfire. At first some at the scene mistook the shots and law enforcement response for a routine drill.

Dorothy Vong, a nurse who was working in a nearby building, captured the tension in a video.

As law enforcement officials sprinted toward scene, someone is heard saying, "Oh, that is scary."

"They're all geared up!" someone else says. "Rifles and everything!"

In the background, someone laughs. Then the reality set in.

Carlos Ortiz's son Kevin Ortiz was shot twice in the leg and once in the shoulder.

The father, 54, was among a dozen people holding hands in a prayer circle outside Arrowhead Regional Medical Centre where numerous victims were taken.

"Kevin called me immediately after he got shot and said 'I've been shot three times dad. I'm in pain. Don't worry. There's a policeman with me.'"

Seconds later the phone call ended.

Kathy Hotetz, 37, waited anxiously outside of the same hospital for word of her sister Denise Peraza's condition. Peraza, 27, was shot once.

"She's alive," Hotetz said. "That's all I know. Not knowing any more than that is the scariest part."

A short time later, Peraza called her sister from her hospital bed, and gave a gruelling account of the attack.

She said the doors opened and two men dressed in all black wearing face masks entered with "big ol' guns" and started shooting.

"Everyone dropped to the floor," Peraza said. "The guys opened fired for 30 seconds, randomly, then paused to reload and began firing again."

Peraza was hiding under a desk when she was struck in the lower back.

After the attackers left the scene became silent for about five minutes. Then the doors swung open again, and a swarm of police officers entered the room.

Closer to the shooting scene, dozens of people spent hours hiding in their workplaces.

Fred Henning was holed up inside the paralegal's office where he works with his wife, about a block from the scene of the shooting. Henning said they were standing outside as helicopters swooped overhead.

"We just came inside because it could be stray bullets, who knows?" Henning asked.

The block where the shooting took place is home to a number of businesses, Henning said, including a three-building complex that houses his office and roughly 140 others.

Lynn Spicer, an employee at West Tech/Webcop Interactive Systems which is inside of a nearby office building, said police were not allowing anyone to leave the area.

"I just heard sirens all day, and I went out and I saw nothing but massive cops were out," Spicer said.

Spicer said more than 100 people were brought over from the Inland Regional building and gathered in her office complex's parking lot.

"It's shocking that it's right across the way," Spicer said. "It's very scary."

- Los Angeles Times and agencies

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