Mass Shooting Suspect’s Brother-in-Law ‘In Shock’

Police shot and killed a married or engaged couple accused of shooting more than 30 people, 14 fatally, during a holiday party Wednesday at a state-run center for people with developmental disabilities in Southern California.

Syed Rizwan Farook, 28, and Tashfeen Malik, 27, were killed in a shootout with police through nearby Redlands more than four hours after a deadly mass rampage at the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino, according to the San Bernardino Police Department.

The massacre left 14 dead and 17 injured at the sprawling facility, which provides services for thousands of people with disabilities, police said. Police swarmed the surrounding area in search of up to three attackers, though authorities now believe that Farook and Malik acted alone. Police said they were wearing "assault-style clothing" and armed with assault-style rifles when they were killed. "Explosive devices" were found inside the building, according to police.

"These people came prepared to do what they did as if they were on a mission," Burguan said. "They were armed with long guns, not with handguns."

Farook's brother-in-law, Farhan Khan, said Wednesday night he could not understand what might have led to the massacre. He was speaking at a news conference before receiving confirmation that Farook was a suspect.

"I have no idea why he would do something like this. I have absolutely no idea," said Khan, who is married to Farook's sister. "I am in shock." 

Police said Farook worked for the San Bernardino County for five years. Public records show Farook served as a restaurant inspector for the health department. He was at the holiday party before the shooting and left "under some circumstances that were described as angry," San Bernardino Police Chief Jarrod Burguan said Wednesday night.

Gunfire erupted at the banquet between 10 and 30 minutes after Farook left, according to Burguan.

Police said Farook and Malik were in a relationship, but didn't know if they were married or engaged. Two people close to Farook or his family said he was married. Hussam Ayloush, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said Malik and Farook were a married couple with a 6-month-old daughter. He said he was relaying the information to reporters on Khan's behalf. 

They had taken the child to a grandmother's home Wednesday morning, telling her they had a doctor's appointment and needed her to care for the child, Ayloush said. By the afternoon, the grandmother apparently became concerned Farook might have been among the victims when neither he nor his wife answered their phones.

The family only began to piece together the events around 2 p.m. — three hours after the shooting — when a reporter called with questions, Ayloush said. Family members were being questioned by police late Wednesday.

"We don't know the motives. Is it work, race-related, is it mental illness, is it extreme ideology? At this point, it's really unknown to us and at this point it's too soon to speculate," Ayloush said.

He said Farook's family is originally from Pakistan and that Farook was born in Illinois and raised in Southern California. 

Farook's co-worker at the County of San Bernardino Department of Public Health, Patrick Baccari, said he was sitting at the same table as Farook during the holiday party. Baccari said employees were taking a break before snapping group photos when Farook suddenly disappeared, leaving a jacket draped over his chair, according to The Associated Press. Baccari stepped out to use the bathroom when he heard explosions.

"I'm getting pelted by shrapnel coming through the walls," he said. "We hit the ground."

The shooting lasted about five minutes, he said, and when he looked in the mirror he realized he was bleeding. He was hit by fragments in the body, face and arms.

"If I hadn't been in the bathroom, I'd probably be laying dead on the floor," he said.

Baccari said Farook traveled to Saudi Arabia earlier this year and returned with a wife, according to The Associated Press. Baccari said Farook was gone for about a month in the spring, and when he returned, word got around Farook had been married. The woman he described as a pharmacist joined him in the U.S. shortly afterward, and they soon had a baby. 

Farook, who was raised on a farm with goats and chickens, was reserved and rarely started a conversation on his own, Baccari said. Several months ago, Farook grew out his beard. He appeared committed to his family, and never displayed any unusual behavior or discussed any radical political views.

Co-workers told the Los Angeles Times Farook was a devout Muslim but didn't talk about religion at work. Griselda Reisinger, who worked with Farook before leaving her job in May, told the Times he "never struck me as a fanatic, he never struck me as suspicious."

Burguan said investigators knew little about Malik or "where she is from."

Khan, speaking at the news conference Wednesday evening, offered his family's condolences to the victims of the chaotic shooting.

"I cannot express how sad I am for what happened today," Khan said. "I am very sad that people lost their lives and (that) there are victims out there. I wish a speedy recovery for them. I am in shock that something like this can happen. I hope everyone can understand and the victims recover out there."

CAIR Chairman Muzammil Siddiqi said at the same news conference that Farook and his wife had both been missing. Siddiqi declined to answer questions about the suspects' alleged motives because neither he nor Khan had answers and did not want to hinder the police investigation.

"Please do not implicate Islam and Muslims," Siddiqi said at the press conference. "Our faith is against this type of behavior."

Los Angeles' FBI director, David Bowdich, didn't rule out the possibility that the shooting was a terrorist attack.

"It is possibility, but we don't know that yet," he said.

A third suspect was detained but it was not immediately clear if that person was connected to the attacks. A police officer was injured in the shootout but is expected to recover, Burguan said.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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