Law enforcement authorities are eyeing terrorism as a possible motive for an attack in Southern California that left 14 dead and was carried out with cold precision by a “devout” Muslim and his wife, who were killed hours later in a shootout with police.
Dressed in tactical gear, wearing GoPro cameras and toting assault rifles, Syed Rizwan Farook, 28, and Tashfeen Malik, 27, burst into a San Bernardino social services facility and shot up a conference room where Farook’s employer, the county health department, was hosting a holiday party. The pair escaped in a black SUV after the attack, which authorities said was over within minutes, only to resurface three hours later and less than 2 miles away in a fierce gun battle on the city’s main drag.
“They came prepared to do what they did, as if they were on a mission,” San Bernardino Police Chief Jarrod Burguan said.
Farook, who Burguan said was born in the U.S. and had worked at the San Bernardino County Department of Public Health for five years, was described by co-workers as a “devout” Muslim, who lived in a home in nearby Redlands, which sources described as “an IED factory.” Bomb squads working with robots swept the home late into the night Wednesday, and witnesses reported hearing several explosions. The nationality of Malik, who had a six-month-old baby with Farook, was not immediately known. Family members told The Associated Press the couple was married.
Law enforcement officials said late Wednesday they could not rule out terrorism as a possible motive. The FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force was aiding in the investigation.
“It is a possibility, but we don’t know that,” said Assistant Regional FBI Director David Bowdich. “It’s possible it goes down that road. It’s possible it does not.”
A law enforcement source told Fox News that the couple were each carrying an AR-15 rifle and a pistol when they were shot and killed by police after a brief chase in their black SUV about 2 miles from the initial shooting site. The source said the vehicle also contained so-called “rollout bags” with multiple pipe bombs, as well as additional ammunition. The couple also had GoPro cameras strapped to their body armor and wore tactical clothing, including vests stuffed with ammunition magazines.
“That’s a military tactic for a sustained fight,” the source told Fox News of the rollout bags.