After a mass shooting, a police chase and a shootout, a violent day in San Bernardino, Calif., ended in the death of two suspects, authorities say.
Syed Farook, 28, and Tashfeen Malik, 27, were responsible for the Wednesday morning attack that killed at least 14 people and injured 17, according to San Bernardino Police Chief Jarrod Burguan. After initial concerns that there could have been a third shooter, police are now confident there were only two.
There’s much that remains unclear, including the motives of the shooters and the identities of the victims. But briefings from police reveal an hours-long timeline of events:
Syed Farook, an environmental specialist who was born in the U.S., has worked for the San Bernardino County health department for five years.
Tashfeen Malik was Farook’s wife, says Hussam Ayloush of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. Malik was born in Pakistan and lived in Saudi Arabia before she married Farook about two years ago, according to Ayloush.
The couple had a 6-month-old daughter, whom they left with Farook’s mother on the morning of the attack, Ayloush says.
Ayloush notes that Farook and Malik were both Muslims and their families said they showed no sign of fanaticism. He emphasizes that the attackers’ motives remain unknown.
The attack began on Wednesday morning, at an office holiday party in the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino. The center provides social services to residents with developmental disabilities, but the shooting was focused on an office party for San Bernardino County staff.
As a county employee, Farook was at the party. At some point he left in anger, Burguan says.
He returned with Malik.
Both were dressed in tactical gear and carrying .223-caliber assault-style rifles, semiautomatic handguns and explosive devices, police say, when they entered the Inland Regional Center and opened fire.
The weapons used in the shooting were legally purchased, law enforcement officials tell NPR’s Carrie Johnson.
At least 14 people died and 17 were wounded. At least two of the wounded victims remain in critical condition as of Thursday morning, according to Loma Linda hospital.
Emergency response teams rushed to the facility and roads near the center were shut down, but Farook and Malik were able to escape.
As the search for the suspects began, hundreds of people were evacuated from the Inland Regional Center. Three explosive devices had been left at the shooting site, and weren’t disposed of until late in the evening, Burguan says.
Farook was wearing a ski mask at the time of the shooting, law enforcement officials tell NPR’s Dina Temple-Raston, but witnesses to the shooting still recognized him. Based on those eyewitness accounts, police drove to nearby Redlands, to a house associated with Farook. (Member station KPCC has a map of the locations involved in the attack.)
When Farook and Malik left the area around the Redlands house in an SUV, police pursued.
Hours after the attack began, following a chase and a shootout with at least 20 police officers, the two suspects were dead. One officer suffered injuries that are not life-threatening.
A third suspect is also in custody; police are working to determine whether that person was involved in the attack.
Police have not identified a motive for the shooting. They have not ruled out terrorism.
Burguan, the police chief, says there does appear to have been some form of planning involved.
“I don’t think they just ran home, put on these types of tactical clothes, grabbed guns and came back on a spur-of-the-moment thing,” he said.
San Bernardino Mayor Carey Davis said in a statement that the attack “has shaken the core of our community.” The county has suspended all nonessential county services on Thursday and Friday.
Late Wednesday, Farook’s brother-in-law, Farhan Khan, appeared at a press conference with the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) for Greater LA and said he had no idea why Farook would carry out such an attack.
“I just cannot express how sad I am for what happened today,” he said. He wished victims a speedy recovery and said he was in shock over the shooting, according to member station KPCC.
“We unequivocally condemn the horrific act that happened today,” Ayloush, the executive director of the LA CAIR office, said at the same conference, speaking on behalf of the local Muslim community. “We offer our heartfelt prayers and condolences to the injured, to the families of those who have been killed. … We stand in mourning, in sadness, for what happened.”
President Obama, in an interview on CBS, called for changes to America’s gun control laws, as he has after mass shootings at Newtown, Conn.; Tucson, Ariz.; Fort Hood, Texas; Charleston, S.C.; and Colorado Springs, Colo., among others.
And in a press conference Thursday morning, U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch said violence like the San Bernardino shooting “has no place in this country.”
“This is not what we stand for,” she said. “This is not what we live for.”