California shooting suspect ‘radicalized’
Syed Rizwan Farook, one of the two suspects in the mass shooting in a social services facility in Southern California that killed 14 on Wednesday, was apparently radicalized, though other factors may have played a role in his motive, CNN reported, citing law enforcement sources.
Police said twelve pipe bomb-type devices had been found at Farook’s home.
The San Bernardino police chief Jarrod Burguan said that Syed Rizwan Farook, 28 and his female partner Tashfeen Malik, 27, had “sprayed the room with bullets,” and did not know if any one individual had been targeted.
All four guns used the attack had been legally purchased, police added. The two had 1,600 rounds of ammunition in their possession.
Citing other law enforcement officials, CNN reported that Farook had been in touch over the telephone and via social media with more than one international terrorism subject who was being investigated by the FBI.
Farook and Malik, who had a 6-month-old daughter together, were killed in a shootout with police after Wednesday’s massacre at the Inland Regional Center in the city of San Bernardino, a social services agency where Farook worked as an inspector.
Earlier, U.S. President Barack Obama said the motivation for a deadly shooting in San Bernardino was not yet known, but a terror attack could not yet be ruled out. It is currently “way too early” to speculate on the motive, the FBI said.
According to the police chief, Farook attended the party, held in the center and at some point stormed out, then returned with Malik to open fire on the celebration. The couple were dressed in assault-style clothing and also placed several bombs at various locations, which police detonated.
The shooting rampage marked the deadliest U.S. gun violence since the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, in December 2012, in which 27 people, including the gunman, were killed.
Wednesday’s carnage amplified concerns about gun violence and security in the wake of a deadly rampage on a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs last week and the attacks in Paris three weeks ago by ISIS militants that killed 130 people.
So far in 2015, there have been more than 350 shootings in which four or more people were wounded or killed, according to the crowd-sourced website shootingtracker.com, which keeps a running tally of U.S. gun violence.
The attack in San Bernardino, a largely working-class city 100 km east of Los Angeles, appeared to differ from other recent U.S. killing sprees in several ways, including the involvement of two people rather than a lone perpetrator.
‘Why would he do that?’
At a news conference called by the Los Angeles area chapter of the Muslim advocacy group Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the brother-in-law of Farook, Farhan Khan, said he was bewildered by the news.
“Why would he do that? Why would he do something like this? I have absolutely no idea. I am in shock myself,” Khan said at the news conference in Anaheim, California, south of Los Angeles.
Hussam Ayloush, executive director of CAIR in the Los Angeles area, said the couple had been missing since Wednesday morning and had a 6-month-old baby.
The manhunt initially led police to a home in the neighboring town of Redlands, and that police pursued a suspected getaway vehicle that was seen leaving that address back to San Bernardino, where the shootout ensued.
Ayloush told Reuters the couple left their 6 month-old-baby with Farook’s mother at that Redlands home early on Wednesday morning and told her they were going to attend a doctor’s appointment for Malik, who he called Farook’s wife of two years. Obama lamented the epidemic of gun violence that he said “has no parallel anywhere else in the world.”
And he repeated his call for Congress to pass “common sense gun safety laws,” including tougher background checks for firearm sales.