Police Identify 2 Suspects in San Bernardino Massacre
Screen capture of KNBC-Channel 4 helicopter video of San Bernardino police SWAT vehicles boxing in an SUV believed to have been involved in Wednesday morning's mass shooting. Police confirmed two suspects in the SUV were killed.
Update, 11:15 p.m.: San Bernardino police have identified two suspects, killed in a Wednesday afternoon shootout with officers, they say carried out an attack on a county workers' gathering in the Southern California city.
Police said the suspect were Syed Farook, 28, described as an environmental specialist for the San Bernardino County Department of Public Health, and his wife or fiancee, Tashfeen Malik, 27.
Shooting suspect Syed Farook, a health inspector with San Bernardino County’s public health department, joined dozens of his colleagues at a party Wednesday morning at the Inland Regional Center. He disappeared shortly before the mass shooting erupted.
Farook, 28, who had worked for the county for five years, "did leave the party early under circumstances described as 'angry,'" San Bernardino police Chief Jarrod Burguan said at a news conference late Wednesday night.
Burguan said law enforcement officials are "reasonably confident" that Farook and 27-year-old Tashfeen Malik, who was his wife or fiancee, 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 Times 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'd 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.
The two suspects shot and killed by police were named Syed Rizwan Farook, 28, and Tashfeen Malik, 27, San Bernardino Police Chief Jarrod Burguan said at a press conference late Wednesday night. Farook is a U.S. born citizen. Authorities are not sure where Malik is from.
Burguan went on to say that police have information that Farook and Malik were in a relationship, and that they were either dating, engaged or married.
Officials are not sure what motivated the couple, Burguan said, but terrorism has not been ruled out.
Police now believe there were only two shooters and that they were the two people shot and killed, Burguan added. Earlier reports said there may have been three or more involved in the shooting.
Update, 7:15 p.m.: The L.A. Times reports one of the deceased suspects has been identified:
Two law enforcement sources identified one of the deceased suspects as Syed Farook, an American citizen.
Public records show a person named Syed R. Farook was employed by the San Bernardino County Health department as an environmental health specialist, but it was not clear if that was the same person involved in the shooting.
The identity of the second person killed by police was not immediately known.
Update, 5:55 p.m.: In a press conference, San Bernardino Police Chief Jarrod Burguan said two suspects, one male and one female, are deceased. Both were occupants of a dark-colored SUV, and were killed following a gunbattle with police. Both were dressed in "assault-style clothing" and had rifles.
FBI assistant director David Bowdich confirmed that there is a third suspect, but said "the relationship between the first two deceased suspects and the third suspect is unknown." Bowdich declined to speculate on motives for the attack, saying "this is an incredibly fluid situation."
When asked about reports that an attendee at the Inland Regional Center holiday party may have left following an argument and returned with armed companions, Burguan said “Somebody did leave the party, but we have no idea if that is the person that came back."
Earlier, KQED spoke with L.A. Bureau Chief Steven Cuevas and health reporter April Dembosky:
Update, 5:05 p.m.: Police are serving a search warrant on a home in Redlands in connection with Wednesday morning's deadly shooting at a social services facility in neighboring San Bernardino.
City spokesman Carl Baker says Redlands police are assisting San Bernardino police in the search connected to the shooting, which killed at least 14 people and wounded 17 others.
The action followed a gunbattle between occupants of an SUV and San Bernardino police not far from the original shooting scene at the Inland Regional Center, which serves people with developmental disabilities.
The LA Times is reporting that investigators believe one of the shooters left a holiday party at the Inland Regional Center after getting into an argument, and returned with one or two armed companions.
Update, 4:20 p.m.: Police say one suspect in the deadly shooting at a social services facility in San Bernardino has been shot in a gunbattle with officers.
San Bernardino police Sgt. Vicki Cervantes said that there is still possibly a suspect "outstanding."
Cervantes would not elaborate, and the condition of the suspect was not known. She says an officer was hurt in the shootout and went to the hospital with injuries that were not life-threatening.
Armored police vehicles recently surrounded a dark-colored SUV with shattered windows on a residential street.
Federal law enforcement officials said the shooting has left 14 dead and 17 wounded.
Update, 3:20 p.m.: Southern California broadcast outlets say police in San Bernardino have been engaged in a firefight believed to involve suspects in Wednesday morning's slaughter at a San Bernardino social services center.
Helicopter video showed police vehicles and a black SUV with its windows shot out. L.A.'s NBC4 said at least one suspect had been shot during an intense exchange of gunfire with officers.
Live pictures showed two police SWAT vehicles that had boxed in the SUV on a residential street. It was unclear if all the suspects had been accounted for.
Update, 2:45 p.m.: San Bernardino police say "upwards of 14 people" were killed in Wednesday morning's shooting at a social services agency in San Bernardino. At least 14 others were wounded.
Police Chief Jarrod Burguan said investigators' best information is that as many as three suspects escaped, possibly in a dark-colored SUV, after the 11 a.m. attack on a sprawling social services center crowded with hundreds of workers and clients.
Officials said they don't know the motive for the slaughter at the Inland Regional Center, part of a statewide network of social service agencies set up to serve the developmentally disabled, or whether it was intended as a terrorist attack.
Several reports -- details below -- say that the attack may have targeted a banquet or holiday party involving employees of the county health department.
Burguan said that the attackers were armed with "long guns" and, based on witness accounts that they were wearing combat-style gear and body armor, "they came with a purpose."
"They came prepared to do what they did, as if they were on a mission," Burguan said.
Police also said courts, government buildings and all public schools in San Bernardino, a city of 213,000 some 60 miles east of Los Angeles, have been placed on lockdown. Extra security has been imposed at the city's hospitals, officials said.
The Associated Press quotes the head of the Inland Regional Center, Marybeth Feild, as saying the San Bernardino County Department of Public Health was holding a banquet in a conference room targeted by the attackers.
Sources have told the Los Angeles Times and other media organizations that the target of the attack may have been a holiday party that was being held at the center. The Times reports:
Keith Nelson, the vice president of the center's board of trustees, said a group who he believed to be "county workers" unrelated to the center were hosting a holiday party when the gunfire broke out.
A person who was inside the building also told The Times that the shooting may have happened during a holiday party, but declined to be identified or comment further.
The shooting took place in a building that is open to the public, Nelson said.
Federal law enforcement sources, who requested anonymity because the investigation is active and ongoing, told The Times that the group holding the party, rather than the center, may have been targeted.
During a news briefing, San Bernadino Police Chief Jarrod Burguan said information about the party was "preliminary" and declined to comment on a motive.
“We have no information at this point to indicate that this is terrorist related, in the traditional sense that people may be thinking,” Burguan said. “Obviously, at a minimum, we have a domestic terrorist type situation that occurred here.”
The Washington Post notes the San Bernardino attack was 355th of the year -- and the second to happen Wednesday.
Gov. Jerry Brown issued the following statement on the shooting, saying “Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims’ families and everyone affected by the brutal attack. California will spare no effort in bringing these killers to justice."
Sen. Dianne Feinstein was more pointed in her statement, specifically taking issue with the availability of assault rifles to convicted felons, the mentally ill and terrorists:
“Today we add San Bernardino to the long list of communities that have fallen victim to a mass shooting, and my heart is with the victims and their families.
“Details in San Bernardino are still murky, but what we do know is that these deadly shootings aren’t slowing down. Just a week after a deadly attack in Colorado Springs, we’re prepared to mourn more victims today.
“The Washington Post reported this week that in the first 334 days of 2015, there were 351 mass shootings. That’s an average of more than one deadly rampage for every day this year.
“USA Today reported that the National Instant Criminal Background Check System ran more than 185,000 checks for gun purchases the day after Thanksgiving. That doesn’t even count the sales that took place online or at gun shows, where no checks are necessary.
“When a convicted felon can walk into a gun show and buy an assault rifle, that’s a problem. When an individual with a known mental illness can buy an assault rifle online, that’s a problem. When a terrorist who can’t board an airplane can buy an assault rifle in a gun store, that’s a problem.
“Congress also has a problem—a debilitating fear of upsetting the gun lobby. Congress refuses even to require background checks on all firearms purchases, an action supported by the vast majority of Americans.
“Each time I see breaking news of yet another mass shooting, I feel it in the pit of my stomach. Congress can’t stop every shooting, but we can help reduce their frequency. I remain hopeful that enough of my colleagues will join me to make that a reality.”
Original post, last updated 1:40 p.m.
San Bernardino police and other law enforcement agencies are hunting for at least one gunman -- and as many as three attackers -- who carried out a mass shooting at a social services center crowded with hundreds of employees and clients when gunfire broke out late Tuesday morning.
Initial reports said as many as 20 people were shot in the incident at the Inland Regional Center.
KNX radio, the CBS News affiliate in Los Angeles, and L.A.'s ABC7 quoted unnamed sources saying as many as 12 people died in the shooting, near the center of San Bernardino and 60 miles east of downtown Los Angeles. NBC4 quoted police confirming three deaths.
SWAT teams from San Bernardino and surrounding agencies were brought in to look for the attackers.
"We are not only using our SWAT team, but SWAT teams from other jurisdictions in an effort to clear the facility and make sure everything is safe," Lt. Rich Lawhead of the San Bernardino Police Department told NBC4. "Obviously, we are trying to treat the people as quickly as we can and determine if there is still an active emergency or an active shooter in any way, shape or form in or around the area."
Early Wednesday afternoon, news reports said the search was briefly focused on a discount mall several miles from the scene of the shooting. Police reportedly cleared the scene without finding evidence related to the attack.
As police searched for the shooters, a bomb squad was also called to the scene after the discovery of a possible explosive device.
Sgt. Vicki Cervantes, a spokeswoman for the San Bernardino Police Department, told reporters at the scene up to three shooters were reported inside the Inland Regional Center. Officers have not secured the building and going door-to-door.
The suspects, she said, are heavily armed and were possibly wearing body armor.
“It’s a very active scene,” Cervantes said. “It’s very fluid.”
Photographs on social media showed heavily-armed police surrounding a neighborhood in San Bernardino.
Officials said they got a call about the shooting at about 11 a.m.
One man whose his wife worked in the building told KABC-TV that at least one gunman walked into the center and opened fire. She was able to lock herself in her office.
The Inland Regional Center is part of a state network of facilities designed to serve the developmentally disabled. According to the San Bernardino center's website, about 670 staffers work at the facility.
The Associated Press offers one witness account:
Terry Petit says he got a text from his daughter saying she was hiding after gunfire erupted at the social services facility in Southern California where she works.
Petit choked back tears Wednesday as he read the texts for reporters outside Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino.
He says she wrote: "People shot. In the office waiting for cops. Pray for us. I am locked in an office."
Police searched people filing out of a building with their hands up before they reunited with loved ones.
Terry Voeltz, 50, and her daughter Christina, 21, waited anxiously outside the cordoned-off area. Voeltz's son Joey Ancona is a case worker supervisor at IRC.
Voeltz said she had spoken with her son and he was safe. He had sent her a text at 11:11 a.m. saying he and two other workers were barricaded in their boss's office.
Voeltz spoke with him after that. Ancona told her a SWAT team had broken through their door and evacuated them.
"He said he saw people that were shot," Voeltz said. "He doesn't know if they caught the shooter yet."
Anthony Ramirez, 57, of Redlands, said his wife works in the company's billing department. She and some other workers locked themselves in a room when they heard shooting. They had since been evacuated by a SWAT team, Ramirez said.
His wife, Corina, sent him a text at 11:01 saying "Someone with a gun around here," Ramirez said.