San Bernardino shooting: What we know about Syed Farook and Tashfeen Malik
Couple reported to have met online and had 6-month-old daughter
The husband-and-wife team who carried out the deadly mass shooting in San Bernardino, Calif., have been identified as Syed Rizwan Farook, 28, and Tashfeen Malik, 27.
Wednesday's attack — which authorities are investigating as an "act of terrorism" — claimed the lives of 14 people and wounded another 21.
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"This was a person who was successful, who had a good job, a good income, a wife and a family. What was he missing in his life?" asked Nizaam Ali, who worshipped with Farook at a mosque in San Bernardino.
The shooting took place at the Inland Regional Center, where Farook's colleagues had gathered for a holiday party. He had been in attendance that morning but slipped out at some point.
Police allege that Farook returned with his wife and that the couple — dressed in tactical gear and carrying assault-style rifles and handguns — fired between 65 and 75 rounds into the room.
They were also carrying hundreds more rounds and left behind an explosive device that didn't go off.
Hours later, the pair were killed by police after a pursuit and gun battle that played out on residential streets.
While authorities say they expect the investigation to be a lengthy one, here's what we know about Farook and Malik so far:
- Farook was born in Chicago on June 14, 1987, but was raised in Southern California by Pakistan-born parents. He has two sisters and a brother.
- Malik was born in Pakistan and held a passport from that country. Pakistani intelligence officials said Malik moved as a child with her family to Saudi Arabia 25 years ago. They said she moved back to Pakistan five or six years ago to study pharmacy. She arrived in the U.S. with Farook in July 2014 on a K-1 fiancée visa. Lawyers for the Farook family said family members described her as a "caring, soft-spoken" housewife. She wore a veil and did not drive.
- To receive her visa, Malik was subjected to a vetting process the U.S. government describes as vigorous. It includes in-person interviews, fingerprints, checks against terrorist watch lists and reviews of her family members, travel history and places where she lived and worked. Farook was also not on the FBI's radar.
- Farook was first hired as a seasonal public employee in July 2010 and served until December of that year, according to a work history supplied by San Bernardino County. In January 2012, he was rehired as a trainee environmental health specialist in the public health department before being promoted two years later. His duties were to check public pool chlorine levels, screen hand-washing facilities and make sure food surfaces were clean in restaurants. State records indicate he is registered as an environmental health specialist.
- Farook was known to pray every day at San Bernardino's Dar Al Uloom Al Islamiyah Mosque. The Los Angeles Times says he stopped attending another local mosque in nearby Riverside two years ago. Friends from the mosque said he was soft-spoken and that they never saw anything to make them think he was violent. Colleagues told the Los Angeles Times he rarely talked about religion at work.
- Farook travelled abroad in July 2014 — a trip that included a stop in his family's native Pakistan and nine days in Saudi Arabia. Authorities said they don't yet know all of the places Farook visited on that trip. He came back with Malik, whom he reportedly met online.
- The two were married on Aug. 16, 2014, according to their marriage licence. Both listed their religion as Muslim.
- The couple had a six-month-old daughter, born in May. She was left with Farook's mother on the morning of the shooting. Rafia Sultana Farook lived with the couple and helped care for the child, family lawyers said. Farook's brother-in-law, Farhan Khan, has begun legal proceedings to adopt the girl.
- Co-workers were reportedly shocked to learn Farook was the shooting suspect, telling media he was well-liked. Patrick Baccari, who shared a cubicle with Farook, described his colleague as reserved and said he showed no signs of unusual behaviour. They had sat at the same table during Wednesday's holiday party, before Farook left. "I assumed Syed was our friend as well," he told NBC News. Baccari said Farook was inclined to talk about cars, not religion.
- A friend of a man killed in the rampage said Farook had a heated conversation about Islam two weeks before the attack. Kuuleme Stephens said she happened to call Nicholas Thalasinos while her friend was talking with Farook at work. She said Thalasinos, a Messianic Jew who was passionately pro-Israel, told her Farook "doesn't agree that Islam is not a peaceful religion." Stephens said Farook replied that Americans don't understand Islam. Stephens added that Thalasinos did not think their conversations would turn violent.
- The couple rented a two-bedroom, one-bathroom townhouse in Redlands, Calif. The SUV they were driving during the shootout — a black Ford Expedition with Utah licence plates — was also rented. Several thousand rounds of ammunition were found in the vehicle, as well as pipe bombs. Investigators also turned up more ammunition, pipe bombs and bomb-making materials at the home. Computers, cellphones and flash-drives were also found during the home search.
- Farook's parents divorced in 2006 in an acrimonious split, with his mother accusing his father of being an abusive alcoholic. According to records obtained by The Associated Press, Rafia Sultana Farook described her husband as "irresponsible, negligent and an alcoholic." She said she was forced to move out of her home with three of her children because her husband, also named Syed, continually harassed her "verbally and physically and refused to leave the home." She filed a no-contact, stay-away domestic violence protection petition on July 3, 2006, alleging that same year that her husband attacked her while her kids were present, dropped a TV on her and pushed her toward a car.
With files from Reuters and The Associated Press