14 dead, suspects ID'd in California shooting

Posted at 5:04 AM, Dec 03, 2015
and last updated 2015-12-03 07:04:38-05

In San Bernardino, California, a heavily armed man and woman dressed for battle opened fire on a holiday banquet for his co-workers, killing 14 people and seriously wounding more than a dozen others in a precision assault, authorities said. Hours later, they died in a shootout with police.

Authorities are trying to determine a motive, which could include workplace violence or terrorism.

Wednesday's shooting happened at a social services center for the disabled where the suspect's colleagues with the San Bernardino County Department of Public Health were renting space for a celebration. It was the nation's deadliest mass shooting since the attack at a school in Newtown, Connecticut, three years ago that left 26 children and adults dead.

The suspects fled the scene and hours later, police found what they believed to be the getaway car in the nearby city of Redlands. When the car left a house there, they followed it and a chase ensued.

There was an exchange of gunfire and two of the suspects -- a man and a woman -- were killed.

San Bernardino Police Chief Jarrod Burguan identified one dead suspect as Syed Rizwan Farook, 28, the other as Tashfeen Malik, 27, his wife or fiancee. Burguan said Farook was born in the United States; the chief said he did not know Malik's background.

Co-worker says suspect went to Saudi Arabia, returned with wife

Farook's co-worker Patrick Baccari says Syed was gone for about a month in the spring. When he came back word got around Farook had been married, and the woman he described as a pharmacist joined him shortly afterward. The couple had a baby this year.

Baccari says the reserved Farook showed no signs of unusual behavior, although he grew out his beard several months ago.

Baccari said he been sitting at the same table as Farook at an office party Wednesday morning, but his co-worker suddenly disappeared, leaving his coat on his chair.

Baccari said he had stepped into the bathroom when the shooting started and suffered minor wounds from shrapnel slicing through the wall.

Shooting happened at party

The San Bernardino County Department of Public Health was having a banquet in the conference area where the shooting happened, according to the CEO of the facility where the shooting took place. The event was partly a training function and partly a holiday event.

Five victims were taken to the nearby Loma Linda University Medical Center, two of which were critical but stable, two of which were fair and the one who was still being assessed, according to a hospital spokeswoman. Six other people are being treated at Arrowhead Regional Medical Center, though their conditions are unknown.

Guns purchased legally

The suspects were dressed in "assault-style" clothing and armed with assault rifles and handguns, Burguan said. San Bernardino police spokeswoman Sgt. Vicki Cervantes said earlier that the suspects may have been wearing body armor.

Federal authorities say that the two assault rifles and two handguns used in the San Bernardino massacre were all purchased legally in the United States -- two of them by someone who's now under investigation.

Meredith Davis of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives says investigators are now working to make a connection to the last legal purchaser.

She says all four guns were bought four years ago but she's not saying whether they were purchased out of state or how and when they got into the hands of the two shooters.

Davis says California requires paperwork when guns change hands privately but many other states don't.

She also says the rifles involved were .223-caliber -- powerful enough to pierce the standard protective vest worn by police officers, and some types of ammo can even plow through walls.

The couple's child

Hussam Ayloush, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, says the couple left their baby with family Wednesday morning and never returned.

Farook was an environmental specialist with the county health department who sometimes worked at the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino.

Police were in the process of searching a home in Redlands Wednesday night where one family member was believed to be an inspector for the San Bernardino Health Department, the same agency that was holding the event before the shooting.