San Bernardino shooting: Police have 'not ruled out terrorism' after husband and wifes' shooting rampage kills 14 and leaves 17 wounded
Husband and wife shot dead after 14 were killed in shooting rampage in California
Published 03/12/2015 | 06:17
Yesterday's deadly mass shooting at a centre for disabled people in San Bernardino was carried out by a husband and wife, according to the Los Angeles Times newspaper.
Syed Rizwan Farook (28) and Tashfeen Malik (27) died in a shootout with police hours after the pair killed 14 people and wounded 17 at the Southern California social services agency yesterday.
Farook's colleagues at the Inland Regional Centre told the newspaper that he had gone to Saudi Arabia and returned with a new wife, after meeting her online. A source identified the wife as Malik, the newspaper said.
Farook, had worked at the centre as an environmental health inspector - employed by the local council - for five years, Jarrod Berguan, San Bernardino's police chief said.
Mr Beguan added that while no motive for the mass shooting had been established, he said "terrorism is not ruled out".
It is understood that Farook worked with those who were attending the holiday party on the campus of an agency that serves the developmentally disabled.
He reportedly left the function following a dispute with one of his colleagues.
Farook and Malik, who have a six-month-old daughter, returned to the party later, armed with guns.
Mr Burguan said he believed there was "some degree of planning" for the attack.
He said the pair were armed with assault rifles and handguns and were dressed in "assault-style" clothing.
"He did leave the party early under some circumstances that were described as angry or something of that nature."
"Based upon what we have seen and based upon how they were equipped, there had to be some degree of planning that went into this," he said.
"So I don't think that he just ran home, put on these types of tactical clothes, grabbed guns and came back on a spur of the moment thing."
"There was some type of dispute or something when somebody left the party, but we have no idea if those are the people that came back," he said.
The shooting rampage marked the deadliest US gun violence since the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, in December 2012, in which 27 people, including the gunman, were killed.
The suspects fled the scene of the shooting in San Bernardino, about 100 kilometres east of Los Angeles, and two people died a few hours later in a shootout when police confronted them in their getaway vehicle.
One police officer was injured.
The massacre drew an angry response from President Barack Obama, who once again urged Congress to pass tougher gun control measures to stem gun violence.
At a news conference called by the Los Angeles area chapter of the Muslim advocacy group Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), a man who identified himself as Farhan Khan said he was married to the sister of one of the suspects and he offered his condolences to the victims.
"Why would he do that? Why would he do something like this? I have absolutely no idea, I am in shock myself," Khan said.
The devastating massacre differs from most other recent US killing sprees in key ways, including the involvement of multiple people rather than a lone perpetrator. It also comes less than three weeks after the deadly attacks in Paris prompted tighter security at many public venues across the United States.
Yesterday Farook and Malik were traced to an apartment complex in the town of Redlands, near to where the massacre happened. As they returned in a black 4x4, they realised the building was being staked out and took off at high speed.
The chase ended in a shoot-out. A man and a woman were shot dead, while a third man was detained when he tried to escape on foot.
Police said they no longer believe a third gunman is at large after yesterday's shootings.
"We're pretty comfortable that the two shooters that went into the building are the two shooters deceased on San Bernardino Avenue", Mr Burguan said.
David Bowdich, an assistant regional FBI director, said authorities had not yet ruled out whether the shooting was an act of terrorism.
"It is a possibility, but we don't know that," he said. "It's possible it goes down that road. It's possible it does not."
Burguan said earlier, "Obviously, at a minimum, we have a domestic-type, terrorist-type situation that occurred here."
The attack took place on the campus of the Inland Regional Center, in a building housing a conference center that was being used for the holiday celebration.
Witnesses recounted barricading themselves in offices and hiding as the sound of gunfire erupted.
Mark Stutte said his terrified daughter who was attending the party organised by the county's public health department, telephoned him while she hid in a toilet as gunshots rang out in the background.
"It was really, really super scary," he told local TV, as he wept. "I'm far away. I couldn't do anything for her."
STRING OF SHOOTINGS
So far in 2015, there have been more than 350 shootings in which four or more people were wounded, according to the crowd-sourced website shootingtracker.com, which keeps a running tally of U.S. gun violence.
The shooting in California comes less than a week after a gunman killed three people and wounded nine in a shooting rampage at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs, Colorado. In October, a gunman killed nine people at a college in Oregon, and in June, a white gunman killed nine black churchgoers in South Carolina.
Gun control advocates, including Democratic President Barack Obama, say easy access to firearms is a major factor in the shooting epidemic, while the National Rifle Association and other pro-gun advocates say the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution guarantees Americans the right to bear arms.