Updated at 5:00am ET on Dec. 3
At least two heavily armed shooters entered a social services center in San Bernardino, California, and opened fire at a holiday party on Dec. 2. Fourteen people were killed and a further 17 wounded. Two suspects were killed after a shootout with police, and identified.
The shooters were carrying “assault style weapons,” and handguns, said Jarrod Burguan, San Bernardino’s police chief, in a televised press conference. They were dressed in “dark tactical gear.”
Two suspects killed by police have been identified
As part of the investigation, police went to an address of a home in Redlands, California and pursued a black SUV that they observed leaving the address. The SUV was surrounded by police on the 1800 block of East San Bernardino Avenue not far from the social services center. After a gun battle in which eyewitnesses said hundreds of shots were fired, one suspect exited the vehicle and was shot.
“Two suspects are dead at the scene,” Burguan said. “One is a male and one is a female.”
The male suspect was identified in a later press conference by Burguan as Syed Rizwan Farook, 28, and the female as Tashfeen Malik, 27. Farook was born in the US and worked as a county officer, Burguan said. Family members say Farook and Malik had been married for two years and had a six-month-old daughter.
Farook was employed by the San Bernardino County Health department, which was holding its holiday party at the social services center, the Los Angeles Times reported. Co-workers told the LA Times he had recently traveled to Saudi Arabia and returned with a wife he had met online. The couple seemed to be “living the American dream,” Patrick Baccari, an inspector who shared a cubicle with Farook, told the paper. Farook had been an employee of the county for five years, ABC7 reported.
“I cannot express how sad I am for what happened,” Farhan Khan, Farook’s brother-in-law, said in a press conference at the Council on Islamic-American Relations. “I have no idea” why Farook would do this, he said. The couple reportedly dropped their daughter off with Farook’s mother just before the shooting, saying they were going to a doctor’s appointment.
The shooters appeared to target the party
The suspects did not go from room to room in the building, but went directly to a conference room where the party was being held, according to several reports. They may have been targeting someone specific, according to several reports including from the LA Times Justice/FBI reporter:
A dispute at the party may have sparked the shooting, the Los Angeles Times reports. Farook was reportedly at the gathering before the shooting, but left following “some kind of dispute,” the police chief said. At the same time, he added, “there had to be some degree of planning that went into this.”
Two of their guns were purchased legally
Meredith Davis, an agent with the US Department of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives told television station KTLA the two suspects were carrying AR-15 rifles as well as handguns. The bureau has “successfully traced” two of the firearms, the LA Times reports, and found that two were purchased legally.
Police have not ruled out a third shooter
Police said they had arrested a third person running from the area where the SUV was stopped. But it was unclear whether that suspect was connected to the shooting, Burguan said.
Police asked nearby residents to say in their homes.
Police are searching an apartment complex in Redlands, according to local television reports.
Terrorism is a possibility
“There are a number of potential things” that are making the FBI consider the possibility that it may have been a terrorist incident, David Bowdich, the Los Angeles assistant director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, said in a press conference Wednesday evening. “I am not willing to say that we know for sure,” he said.