San Bernardino Police Identify Two Suspects as Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik

Matt Vespa
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Posted: Dec 03, 2015 5:55 AM
San Bernardino Police Identify Two Suspects as Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik

Around 10pm PST–1am EST–San Bernardino police chief Jarrod Burguan held a press conference concerning the horrific mass shooting in the city earlier today. It was the deadliest shooting since Newton in 2012 that’s left 14 dead and 17 wounded. Chief Burguan noted that the status of the wounded is unknown.

Reiterating on previous reports in the media, he said that police followed up on a tip that led them to nearby Redlands, CA, which is where the suspects SUV was discovered. A chase ensued, which saw two suspects, one male and one female, re-enter the city of San Bernardino, culminating in a firefight on San Bernardino Avenue between Mountain View and Richardson. Between 20-21 officers were involved in the gun battle that left both suspects dead.

Burguan identified them as 28-year-old U.S.-born Syed Rizwan Farook and 27-year-old Tashfeen Malik. Law enforcement is relatively confident that these two were in some form of relationship. Chief Burguan didn’t go into specifics as to whether they were engaged, married, or boyfriend/girlfriend, but something existed between the two.

Mr. Farook is a San Bernadino County employee, and worked as an environmental health specialist. He’s been employed with the county for the past five years. KPCC Southern California Public Radio reported that he was present at the Christmas party located at the Inland Regional Center for the “developmentally disabled.” The party was for the county’s health department employees, according to SCPR.

Burguan said at the press conference that Mr. Farook attened the party, but left early–and was described as angry. The LA Times also reported on much of what Burguan said at the presser yesterday evening. KTLA5 noted that the county’s SWAT team was in the area doing training exercises, which allowed them to respond to the situation very quickly.

Chief Burguan said the response time from the emergency call to units arriving at the location of the shooting was four minutes. He also amended the original reports that there may have been up to three shooters in this attack. He now is somewhat comfortable saying that there were only two shooters–Farook and Malik–who are now deceased.

Farook and Malik were armed with two .223 caliber AR-15 rifles. One manufactured by DMPS Panther Arms and the other by Smith and Wesson. Handguns were also recovered at the scene of the shootout. As to how these two suspects acquired these weapons, Chief Burguan said the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives is looking further into that area of the investigation. He also said that terrorism hasn’t been ruled out. The LA Times quoted the FBI’s assistant director of their Los Angeles office, David Bowdich, saying the same thing.

"Is this a terrorist incident? We do not know," he said.

Concerning the reports about explosive devices, Chief Burguan said that a total of three devices matching such a description were recovered and have been rendered safe.

As to motive, we still don’t know­–and probably won’t for quite some time. There's still a lot of information that needs to be analyzed, especially the electronic evidence that could be in Farook's office that is now under control by law enforcement–and set to be investigated shortly. Chief Burguan said that what from what we’ve seen today points to at least “some degree of planning” with this shooting. 

While there have been reports that ISIS supporters were elated over this shooting, it’s unknown as to whether this is an ISIS-motivated attack. Chief Burguan was adamant that every single asset has been brought to the table in the city, and county, to ensure public safety.

He closed by saying that he didn’t expect to hold another press conference, and that the officers who engaged Farook and Malik were “flat out heroic.”

One officer was wounded, but his injuries are not life threating. He’s expected to make a full recovery.

UPDATE: It appears the two shooters, Farook and Malik, were married, according to the LA Times.