As FBI and San Bernardino officials continued to investigate the motive behind a deadly mass shooting that left 14 people dead and 21 people injured, more details about the shooters — and the scene of “carnage” they wrought — began to emerge Thursday.
Syed Farook, 28, and his wife Tashfeen Malik, 27, died Wednesday during a shootout with officers several hours after they stormed into the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino and opened fire during a holiday party.
“They sprayed the room with bullets, so I don’t know that there was any one person that they ultimately targeted,” San Bernardino Police Department Chief Jarrod Burguan said. “They killed 14 people there.”
Officials initially said 17 others were injured, but the number rose to 21 as of Thursday morning. The surviving victims’ conditions were not all known, but two were critically injured and were being treated at Loma Linda University Medical Center.
The identities of those who were killed were released later in the day Thursday. The victims ranged from 26 to 60.
They were among about 75 to 80 people at a County of San Bernardino Department of Public Health training and holiday luncheon when they were killed. Twelve those killed and 18 of the injured were county employees, the chief said at an early evening news conference Thursday.
Burguan brought Lt. Mike Madden, a 24-year veteran and administrative commander who works what the chief called a “desk job,” to the microphone to tell reporters about this experience. Madden, who was raised and went to high school in San Bernardino, was the first to respond to the shooting call, he said.
As he and three other officers entered the conference room where the shooting occurred, “the situation was surreal,” Madden said.
“It was unspeakable, the carnage that we were seeing,” Madden said.
“This was tragedy that I’ve never experienced in my career,” he continued, his voice continued to speak. “We had to deal with it. We had to help bring them to safety. We had to try to bring some kind of calm to the chaos that was going on.”
Authorities offered few new details on the investigation at the news conference where Madden spoke.
Gov. Jerry Brown also spoke, saying he wanted the state to work closely with local and federal authorities to ensure Californians are protected.
“When it comes to people who engage in these kind of vicious, brutal acts, we’ll spare nothing in bringing them to justice and protecting the people along the way,” Brown said. “We have to be on our guard. We can’t take anything for granted.”
Earlier in the day, Burguan said that the sprinkler system had gone off during the shooting and flooded the area, after possibly being hit by gunfire, causing a delay in the investigation and identifying of victims.
Farook, an American, worked for the San Bernardino County health department and had attended the event at the Inland Regional Center the morning of the shooting, Burguan said.
Several people indicated to law enforcement that Farook left the party after a possible dispute and was angry, while others told officials he seemed to disappear from the event.
Farook later returned to the holiday party with Malik wearing “black-style tactical gear,” and began shooting at party attendees.
“There appears to be a degree of planning that went into this,” Burguan said. “Nobody just gets upset at a party, goes home and puts together that kind of an elaborate scheme or plan to come back and do that. So there was some planning that went into this.”
The heavily armed couple “came prepared,” the chief said Wednesday. During a morning press conference Thursday, he broke down figures discovered during the early stages of the investigation.
The couple had fired 65 to 75 rounds at the luncheon before fleeing, Burguan said.
Three pipe bombs attached to a remote-controlled car were later found by responding officials, prompting them to temporarily back off from the scene.
After the shooting, someone in the building told investigators that he or she was concerned over Farook’s behavior at the holiday event, Burguan said.
While following up on the tip, officials discovered Farook had recently rented an SUV that matched the suspect’s vehicle description.
The vehicle, a black Ford Expedition, had been rented three or four days prior and was due to be returned the day of the shooting. Burguan said it was rented locally but had Utah plates.
Investigators found several addresses linked to Farook, including a home in Redlands where a vehicle matching the description was spotted leaving.
A pursuit ensued, leading law enforcement back to San Bernardino before the two parties exchanged gunfire.
Malik fired at officers from the back of the SUV, while Farook stepped outside the vehicle when opening fire, Burguan said. It was not clear if the officials or suspects shot first.
The suspects fired 76 rounds at the officers, and about 380 were fired in return.
Both Farook and Malik died at the scene, and two officers were injured — including a police officer who was shot in the leg and a deputy who suffered cuts from flying shrapnel or glass.
As the gunbattle began, multiple passing motorists abandoned their vehicles and ran for safety.
One person, who Burguan said may have also been attempting to flee the dangerous scene, was detained during the ordeal and questioned. The individual was later determined not to be connected to the shootings, but was booked on an unrelated misdemeanor warrant.
When asked if additional people were being sought in connection to the mass shooting, Burguan and David Bowdich, the assistant director of the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office, said they were not prepared to provide details.
Farook and Malik had a 6-month-old daughter who was brought to Farook’s mother’s home prior to the deadly rampage, CNN reported, adding that they had told the grandmother they had a doctor’s appointment.
The baby’s location was not known by Burguan as of Thursday morning.
The couple was married for about two years, after Farook returned home from an international trip to several countries, including Pakistan, where Malik was from, Bowdich said.
The investigation was still underway, and Bowdich said he was not aware of the other countries Farook visited, including Saudi Arabia, as reported by CNN.
“This is not your average investigation,” Bowdich said, asking for patience as investigators gathered the facts.
Officials gave no indication as to a possible motive as of Thursday morning, and Bowdich said “we cannot rule anything out at this point,” including terrorism.
“There was obviously a mission here. We do not know why. We do not know if this was the intended target or if there was something that triggered him to do this immediately,” the FBI official said.
The guns used by Farook and Malik were all legally purchased — with Farook buying two handguns used, and two firearms having been obtained by an unidentified person.
It was not clear if they were legal by California standards, Burguan added, but they appeared to have been purchased legally and were registered.
He was not aware of anything illegal regarding the purchase of copious amount of ammunition used and stockpiled.
Investigators also remained at the scene of the Redlands home the day after the shooting. It was not clear if the location was Farook and Malik’s place of residence, but the two rented the property, Burguan said.
Twelve pipe bomb-type devices were found in the home or garage area, as well as hundreds of tools that could be used to make the bombs or IEDs.
The bombs showed “some level of sophistication,” Bowdich said.
Computers, thumb drives and cellphones were also being analyzed.
Although the investigation continued, Burguan said no immediate threats to the area were known.
However, “all but only the most essential county services” were suspended through the remainder of the work week, according to the county website.
The San Bernardino community, although “hit hard” economically and recovering from a bankruptcy declaration — and recently reported by the Los Angeles Times to be the second-poorest city in the nation behind Detroit — would recover from the tragedy, Burguan said.
“This is a pretty resilient community. We will survive this. We’ve had an enormous groundswell of support from our neighboring communities and well wishes that have come in from all over the place,” the chief said.