As investigators worked overnight searching a home linked to a shooting rampage in San Bernardino, California, a portrait of the couple suspected in the deadly assault began to emerge through news accounts.
The suspects — Syed Rizwan Farook, 28, and Tashfeen Malik, 27 — were married two years ago, according to family, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Wednesday morning, they left their 6-month-old daughter with Farook’s mother in Redlands, California, telling her they had a doctor’s appointment, said Hussam Ayloush, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations’ Los Angeles office, according to reports.
Hours later, both Farook and Malik were killed in a shootout with police. The two were being hunted for allegedly shooting up the Inland Regional Center with automatic weapons, killing 14 people and wounding 17 more. Law enforcement authorities said they also found three devices in the building, which police believe were explosives.
As authorities tried to piece together facts about the shooting, they also were being asked: Who were Farook and Malik, and how and why could they plan such an attack?
Farook was a health inspector with San Bernardino County’s public health department and had joined dozens of his colleagues at a party Wednesday morning at the Inland Regional Center. He disappeared shortly before the mass shooting erupted.
He had worked for the county for five years, and “did leave the party early under circumstances described as ‘angry,’ ” San Bernardino police Chief Jarrod Burguan said.
Burguan said law enforcement officials are “reasonably confident” that Farook and his wife or fiancee, Malik, were the two suspects in the mass shooting that occurred during the party.
Family members told the Los Angeles Times that the couple had been married for two years.
Co-workers told the newspaper that they were shocked to hear Farook’s name linked to the shooting.
Two employees who were in the bathroom when the bullets began to fly said he was quiet and polite, with no obvious grudges.
They said Farook had recently traveled to Saudi Arabia and returned with a woman he had met online. The couple had a baby and appeared to be “living the American dream,” said Patrick Baccari, a fellow inspector who shared a cubicle with Farook.
Baccari and Christian Nwadike said Farook, who had worked with them for about three years, rarely started a conversation. But he was well-liked.
They and other colleagues said Farook was a devout Muslim who rarely discussed religion at work.
Malik’s brother, Farhan Khan, said the family was at first worried the couple were shot in the attacks, but then they started receiving calls from media outlets indicating Farook was a person of interest.
The grandmother, who was watching the couple’s daughter, grew worried when she heard of the shooting attack in San Bernardino and “she started calling. No answer,” Ayloush said.
He said Farook was born in Illinois and his parents immigrated to the United States from Southeast Asia.
Other media outlets reported that Farook’s parents are from Pakistan.
Speaking at an Islamic center in Anaheim, California, Khan, the brother-in-law of Malik and Farook, said he was completely unaware of any plans the couple may have had to carry out the mass shooting.
Khan himself was floored by the news, the Associated Press reported.
“I cannot express how sad I am. I have no idea why he would do that ... I am in shock that something like this would happen ... My condolences to the people who lost their life.”
The home that Malik and Farook shared was cautiously approached by authorities who suspected that it may be laden with explosives as has occasionally been the case in previous mass shooting situations. It appears that Malik and Farook may have done so.
Police said late Wednesday that Malik’s nationality was not yet known. Each of the suspects had an assault rifle and a semi-automatic handgun when they died, Burguan said.
“There had to be some degree of planning that went into this,” Burguan said. “I don’t think they just ran home and put on these tactical clothes.”
He said the motive had not been determined. “We have not ruled out terrorism,’’ he said.
The New York Times reported that one senior American official said Farook had not been the target of any active terrorism investigation and he was not someone the bureau had been concerned about before Wednesday’s shooting. Other officials said the FBI was looking into a possible connection between Farook and at least one person who was investigated for terrorism a few years ago.