San Bernardino Police Chief Jarrod Burguan identified 28-year-old Syed Rizwan Farook and his wife or fiancee, 27-year-old Tashfeen Malik, as the suspects in the mass shooting at the San Bernardino County Department of Public Health Christmas party Wednesday that left 14 people dead and more than a dozen seriously injured.
Both heavily armed individuals, wearing “assault-style clothing” were killed in a shootout with police hours later.
Farook, who was reportedly a restaurant inspector with the Department of Public Health, had arrived at the party at the Inland Regional Center at around 11am. Co-worker Patrick Baccari said he had actually been sitting at a table with Farook. The suspect left suddenly, leaving his coat on his chair. Baccari hid in a bathroom when the shooting began, and suffered wounds inflicted by shrapnel bursting through the wall.
Earlier in the morning, the couple dropped off their 6-month-old daughter with her grandmother, claiming they had a doctor’s appointment to attend to.
After they opened fire at the celebration, the couple fled to a house once city over. When policed tracked them down, the suspects fled in a black SUV.
Gunfire was exchanged with assault rifles and semi-automatic handguns, and the couple reportedly threw pipe bombs out of the back window before the chase ended near the scene of the massacre between 3pm and 4pm (it has been suggested that the pipe bombs were fake).
Hussam Ayloush, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) held a press conference with other council members to discuss the ordeal and denounce the attacks.
Authorities are now trying to determine the motive behind this attack, whether it was workplace violence or terrorism. According to statistics, mass shootings (when four or more people are wounded or killed) in the United States occur at least once a day on average. 462 people have died in such attacks in the U.S. this year alone.
Farook is described as being a devout Muslim. Co-worker Baccari claims that the suspect showed no signs of unusual behaviour, but he did grow out his beard a few months back.
Farook’s brother-in-law Farhan Khan said he had “absolutely no idea why he would do this. I am shocked myself.”
Do you think this was a terrorist attack? A disgruntled employee taking out his anger on co-workers? Or were these two suspects simply “loonies”?