San Bernardino shooters Syed Farook and Tashfeen Malik were both radicalized for 'some time,' FBI says
Couple participated in target practice just days before shooting dozens of people at holiday party
The husband and wife who carried out the San Bernardino, Calif., massacre had been radicalized "for quite some time" and had taken part in target practice, in one case within days of the attack that killed 14 people, the FBI says.
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In a chilling twist, authorities also disclosed Monday that a year before the rampage, Syed Farook's co-workers at the county health department underwent "active shooter" training in the very conference room where he and his wife opened fire last Wednesday.
It was not immediately clear whether Farook attended the 2014 training session on how to react to a workplace gunman, county spokeswoman Felisa Cardona said. It was held for members of the department's environmental health division, where Farook was a restaurant inspector.
Two employees who survived the attack said colleagues reacted Wednesday by trying to do as they had been trained — dropping under the tables and staying quiet so as not to attract attention.
"Unfortunately the room just didn't provide a whole lot of protection," said Corwin Porter, assistant county health director.
Farook, a 28-year-old born in the U.S. to a Pakistani family, and Tashfeen Malik, a 29-year-old immigrant from Pakistan, were killed in a gunbattle with police hours later.
"We have learned and believe that both subjects were radicalized and have been for quite some time," David Bowdich, chief of the FBI's Los Angeles office, told reporters Monday.
He added: "The question we're trying to get at is how did that happen and by whom and where did that happen? And I will tell you right now we don't know those answers."
Bowdich also said they found components in the couple's home in Redlands, Calif., to make 19 bombs. The FBI previously said it had found 12 pipe bombs.
An instructor at Riverside Magnum Range — about 20 miles from the Inland Regional Center where the two targeted Farook's co-workers a few days later — said Farook visited the range on Nov. 29 and 30.
John Galletta said Monday that nothing was out of the ordinary about Farook's behaviour, but that he asked a representative why his rifle might be smoking, and was told it was most likely because it was new.
Asked whether in hindsight he or others at the range should have been suspicious of Farook, Galletta said: "How are you able to determine what somebody's intents are?"
Newly released emergency radio transmissions from the fast-moving tragedy show that police identified Farook as a suspect almost immediately, even though witnesses reported that the attackers wore black ski masks.
An unidentified police officer put out Farook's name because Farook had left the luncheon "out of the blue" 20 minutes before the shooting, "seemed nervous," and matched the description of one of the attackers, according to audio recordings posted by The Press-Enterprise newspaper of Riverside.
In addition to the 14 killed, 21 people were hurt. At least six people remain hospitalized, two in critical condition.
U.S. President Barack Obama said in a prime-time address Sunday that the attack was an "act of terrorism designed to kill innocent people."
He said that the two killers had "gone down the dark path of radicalization" but that there was no evidence they were part of a larger conspiracy or were directed by an overseas terror organization.
The two assault rifles used in the attack had been legally purchased by an old friend of Farook's, Enrique Marquez, authorities said, but they are still trying to determine how the weapons got into the couple's hands.
Marquez has not been charged.
The FBI would not release details on where the husband and wife practiced their shooting.
But John Galletta, an instructor at Riverside Magnum Range, said in a statement that Farook had been there on Nov. 29 and 30, two days before the attack, and "nothing was out of the ordinary regarding his behaviour."
Galletta told reporters that he never spoke to Farook and that no one had seen Farook's wife around there.
Meanwhile, most of the county's 20,000 employees went back to work for the first time Monday since the rampage five days earlier engulfed the community in shock and mourning.
"To honour them, to express our gratitude for their unimaginable sacrifice, we have to fight to maintain that ordinary," County Supervisor Janice Rutherford said of the victims. "We can't be afraid of our lives, of our community, of our neighbours, of our co-workers."
Authorities said that they have tightened security at county buildings and that counselling centres and a hotline have been set up for employees in distress.
Employees in the environmental health division, where many of the victims worked, will be off until next week.
In announcing the return to work, county health director Trudy Raymundo recalled that she was about to give a presentation when the killers opened fire.
"We held each other and we protected each other through this horrific event," she said. "And we will continue to hold each other and protect each other."
A custody hearing for Farook and Malik's 6-month-old daughter was held Monday, with Farook's sister seeking to adopt the baby, the Council on American-Islamic Relations said.
No long-term decisions were made, and the child will remain in county custody for now. Another hearing is set for next month.