San Bernardino shooters borrowed $28,000 before attack
Money trail under scrutiny by investigators in wake of mass shooting that killed 14
A married couple who killed 14 people in last week's shooting rampage in San Bernardino, Calif., borrowed about $28,000 from an online lender, a sum deposited into their bank account about two weeks before the attack, sources told Reuters on Tuesday.
Disclosure of the unsecured loan Syed Rizwan Farook, 28, took out from San Francisco-based Prosper, a peer-to-peer lending service, offered a new glimpse into the money trail under scrutiny by investigators of the mass shooting.
- Why aren't we looking into the Saudi role in San Bernardino attack?
- San Bernardino shooters were both radicalized for 'some time,' FBI says
The FBI has described Farook, the U.S.-born son of Pakistani immigrants, and his Pakistani-born wife, Tashfeen Malik, 29, as a couple "radicalized" by Islamic extremist ideology. The agency has also said it is investigating the attack as an "act of terrorism."
Malik — who spent a good portion of her life in Saudi Arabia before returning with Farook to California in the summer of 2014 — is believed by investigators to have pledged allegiance on Facebook to the leader of the militant group ISIS just before the killings.
Authorities say the heavily armed couple opened fire on Farook's co-workers from the county environmental health department during a holiday party at the Inland Regional Center.
Fourteen people were killed and 21 others were wounded in the assault. The couple died several hours later in a shootout with police.
Gun connection probed
In yet another twist to the case, state marital records examined by Reuters on Tuesday revealed that the man said by authorities to have purchased the two assault-style rifles used in the attack was related by marriage to Farook's family.
Enrique Marquez, whose home was raided over the weekend and was being questioned by federal investigators, became married last year to Mariya Chernykh, whose sister is married to Farook's older brother, Raheel Farook.
While investigations into assaults branded as acts of terrorism often focus on the money behind them, U.S. government officials said the FBI's examination of the couple's finances has not linked them with any foreign group.
Still, one government source told Reuters that Farook and Malik apparently followed a pattern set by other militants who drained their bank accounts and exhausted credit lines before embarking on what they believed would be a suicide mission.
A separate source told Reuters that Prosper, a San Francisco-based online lender, made a $28,500 collateral-free loan to Farook in mid-November. Loans made by Prosper, which processes borrowers' applications and evaluates their credit-worthiness, are originated by the third-party bank WebBank, based in Salt Lake City. Prosper then sells its loans to investors.
Fox News first reported Monday that a deposit of $28,500 was made into Farook's bank account from WebBank.com on Nov. 18, and that Farook converted $10,000 in cash, which he withdrew from a Union Bank branch in San Bernardino around Nov. 20. Fox also reported at least three $5,000 transfers were made in the days before the shooting, apparently to Farook's mother.
WebBank issued a statement expressing condolences to victims of the San Bernardino shooting but declined further comment, citing confidentiality restrictions.
In addition to the pair of rifles and semi-automatic handguns they carried the day of the killings, the couple were found to have amassed thousands of rounds of ammunition, along with explosives and other materials for making as many as 19 pipe bombs, according to the FBI.
One device consisting of three pipe bombs rigged together was left by the killers at the scene but failed to detonate, law enforcement officials said.
'I'll take a bullet before you do'
Meanwhile, a sheriff's detective who won praise for shepherding frightened people out of the Inland Regional Center is shrugging off his heroism and newfound celebrity, saying he was only doing what was necessary and that the sight of a terrified child had inspired him.
"Try to relax everyone, try to relax, I'll take a bullet before you do, that's for damn sure," Det. Jorge Lozano said in a video captured in the hallway of the facility as he escorted employees and others who had been stranded in a hallway as the shootings went on in a conference room.
He talked about the moment for the first time Tuesday at a news conference of first responders to the shootings.
He explained what inspired him to make the declaration.
"When they were passing me, there was a female there with a small child that was just terrified, shivering almost, shaking like a leaf. And I said what I said. I meant what I said. Calm down, relax and we were going to do everything we could," Lozano said.
I don't feel like a hero whatsoever. That's our job to put ourselves in the line.- Det. Jorge Lozano
He said he had been scared himself when someone opened a door without announcing themselves, but knew the people he was responsible for were relying on him for comfort and calm so he provided it, as any of his colleagues would have done for the people they signed on to protect.
"I don't feel like a hero whatsoever," Lozano said. "That's our job to put ourselves in the line."
The video — and the "take a bullet" line in particular — have made something of a celebrity out of Lozano, and he won the admiration of the public and his colleagues.
With files from The Associated Press