Authorities identified them as Syed Rizwan Farook, 28, and Tashfeen Malik, 27, who were married two years and had a 6-month-old baby. Farook was born in the United States of Pakistani parents and was reported to be a five-year employee of the San Bernardino County public health agency, which was holding a holiday party at the Inland Regional Center’s Conference room when the gunfire erupted.
Farook had traveled to Saudi Arabia last year and returned with a new wife he met online according to media reports.
At a news conference this morning, David Bowdich of the FBI said Malik came to the United States with Farook in July 2014 on a work visa and had a Pakistani passport. The couple married after arriving in the U.S. Bowdich said investigators were working to determine why the couple opened fire on the victims, and he stressed that “the fact-finding process takes time.”
“We do not yet know the motive,” Bowdich said. “There was obviously a mission … we do not know why.”
Bowdich said it would be “irresponsible” to describe the crime as terrorism until more is known.
San Bernardino police Chief Jarrod Burguan, also at the news conference this morning, said it was not known if any of the victims was specifically targeted by the couple.
“They sprayed the room with bullets,” Burguan said. He noted that Farook had been at the party earlier but left, possibly after having some type of dispute.
Burguan said the preliminary investigation determined that the suspects fired 65 to 75 rounds in the room. The couple wore black clothing and combat-style vests, but were not wearing body armor as had been earlier thought.
A candlelight vigil will be held at 6 p.m. at San Manuel Stadium, 280 S. E St., San Bernardino.
Burguan said the community is tight-knit and resilient.
“We will survive this,” Burguan said.
On Wednesday, Farook’s brother-in-law Farhan Khan, who said he is the husband of Farook’s sister, told reporters his entire family is “shocked and very sorry for what happened.”
“We had no idea something (like) this could happen,” Khan said at an Anaheim news conference organized by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-LA).
Salem Al- Mayarti, President of the Muslim Public Affairs council held a joint news conference with law enforcement and representatives from other faith group.
“As we are all trying to gather information about the tragedy yesterday, we are gathering communities together as a united fromt and we are working in partnership with law enforcement to determine what motivated this atrocity. We are very disturbed about this form of violence and behavior and we have called for full cooperation with law enforcement and help with restoration with the Inland Regional Center.” Al-Mayarti said.
“We don’t know if terrorism is involved…but we will not be terrorized by them or the hate mongers out there that take these incidents as wicked opportunities.”
Al-Mayarti joined with Ed Bacon of All Saints Church in Pasadena expressed concern for those who were killed and injured. “Our hearts are broken, that leads people to prayer and the correct understanding of prayer is to take action.
Los Angeles Deputy Chief Michael Downey said he had two messages. “The greatest strenth we have rests with the communities. all of the communities and we need help . If you see something, say something.” Downey urged people to resport suspicious activity to www.watchla.org
Apparently fearing an anti-Muslim backlash, CAIR-LA’s Executive Director, Hussam Ayloush, issued a statement on behalf of the group and the Islamic Shura Council of Southern California.
“We condemn this horrific and revolting attack and offer our heartfelt condolences to the families and loved ones of all those killed or injured,” Ayloush said. “The Muslim community stands shoulder to shoulder with our fellow Americans in repudiating any twisted mindset that would claim to justify such sickening acts of violence.”
In a precautionary move, the Harbor Regional Center in Torrance closed for the rest of the day Wednesday following the shootings, as did the North Los Angeles County Regional Center, and the Eastern Los Angeles Regional Center in Van Nuys. All of them reopened today.
The city of Los Angeles Emergency Operations Center was activated “out of an abundance of caution” to monitor the situation, but city officials said there were “no known impacts from the shooting in the city.”
“Our police and fire agencies are in contact with their counterparts in San Bernardino and are on standby to assist as needed,” said Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti.
“In addition, my Mayor’s Office Crisis Response Team, trained in trauma intervention and grief counseling, has offered its support to San Bernardino with a team of volunteers being made available to assist law enforcement agencies with outreach to affected family members, friends and the community.”
In a news briefing on Wednesday, Burguan said the attack reflected planning.
“Based upon what we have seen and based upon how they were equipped there had to have been some degree of planning to this,” he said. “I don’t think they just ran home, put on these types of tactical clothes, grabbed guns and came back on a spur of the moment thing.”
Police and witnesses said the assailants walked into the holiday party in a conference room and started shooting.
According to Burguan, the investigation led police to a home in Redlands, and as officers approached, Farook and Malik fled in a dark SUV. A pursuit ensued, ending back in San Bernardino, where a gun battle ensued.
Farook and Malik were killed in the prolonged shootout, Burguan said. He said both suspects were armed with assault rifles and handguns.
At this morning’s briefing, Burguan said a San Bernardino police officer suffered a leg wound that was not believed life-threatening, and a San Bernardino County sheriff’s deputy suffered leg cuts, possibly from shrapnel.
The suspects fired about 75 rounds during the gun battle, and about two dozen law enforcement officers fired about 380 rounds, Burguan said. The suspects had about 1,600 rounds of ammunition on them or in their vehicle, Burguan said.
Agents from the Los Angeles field office of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives were sent to the scene of the morning shooting, along with personnel from the FBI. Agents from Homeland Security Investigations also responded to the shooting.
The Inland Regional Center has nearly 670 staff members and provides services to more than 30,200 people with developmental disabilities and their families in San Bernardino and Riverside counties.
As the shooting investigation unfolded, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department issued a reminder that people can take steps to try to protect themselves in an active-shooter situation. The department has a website and video available with tips at activeshooter.lasd.org.