Family, friends of young couple struggle to make sense of party shooting
DETAILS emerged yesterday of how a couple dropped off their six-month-old baby with family and then went on to collect rifles and storm a Christmas party, killing 14 people and wounding 17.
A few hours after the attack, Syed Rizwan Farook, 28, and his wife, Tashfeen Malik, 27, were killed in a shootout with police, leaving the grieving community of San Bernardino in California and their own family trying to puzzle out the motive for the carnage. Farook, born in the US, worked as an environmental health specialist for San Bernardino County, inspecting restaurants.
On Wednesday, he attended the Christmas gathering for employees of his department, but then left, returning with weaponry and Malik, whom he reportedly met in Saudi Arabia through the internet.
San Bernardino police chief Jarrod Burguan said that the shooting spree had clearly been planned in advance and that the suspects had left several explosive devices, which appeared to be pipe bombs, at the scene.
The Council on AmericanIslamic Relations (CAIR), who had been in touch with the family, said the couple were married for two years and had a six-month-old baby girl.
CAIR official Hussam Ayloush said the couple had left the baby with Farook’s mother on Wednesday morning.
While the motive remained unclear, police chief Burguan said: “We have not ruled out terrorism.”
Farook’s family and co-workers struggled to make sense of the shooting, the deadliest in the United States in three years.
His brother-in-law went before television cameras and said he had absolutely no idea why Farook would stage a massacre.
According to police, Farook attended the party, held in a local government building, and at some point stormed out.
He returned with Malik to open fire on the celebration.
The couple were dressed in assault-style clothing and also placed several bombs at the scene, which police detonated.
The rampage marked the deadliest US gun violence since the massacre at a school in Connecticut in December 2012, in which 27 people, including the gunman, were killed.
The carnage in California amplified concerns about gun violence and security after a shooting last week and the attacks in Paris three weeks ago by Islamic State militants that killed 130 people.
So far in this year, there have been more than 350 shootings in which four or more people were wounded or killed, independent figures show.
The attack in San Bernardino, a largely working-class city 100km east of Los Angeles, appeared to differ from other recent US killing sprees in several ways, including the involvement of two people rather than a lone perpetrator.
A third person seen fleeing from the area of the shootout with the suspects was detained, but Burguan said he was not sure if that person was involved.
At a news conference, the brother-in-law of Farook, Farhan Khan, said he was bewildered.
“Why would he do that? Why would he do something like this? I have absolutely no idea. I am in shock myself,” Khan said.
Co-workers told the Los Angeles Times that Farook had travelled to Saudi Arabia and returned with his wife, whom he had met online.