by Katie Ellington, News Editor
The FBI is investigating the shooting in San Bernardino as an act of terrorism. Fourteen people were killed and 21 injured in the southern California shooting. Ten were in critical condition as of Thursday morning.
The shooting took place in an entertaining room at the Inland Regional Center, a nonprofit community center for people with developmental disabilities; however, the victims were primarily county employees attending a holiday party hosted by the county’s environmental health department.
The suspects are Syed Rizwan Farook, 28, and his wife, Tashfeen Malik, 27. Farook was a county health inspector. Health department employees said that Farook left the gathering early after getting into an argument. He returned with Malik. They came wearing masks and tactical gear and were armed with two assault rifles and two handguns and brought a total of 1,600 rounds with them.
According to the New York Times, the shootings went on for four minutes, followed by a five-hour standoff with local police in which two officers were injured. Officials later found a remote control car with three pipe bombs attached to it at the scene.
The FBI told CNN Friday afternoon that the shooting is being investigated as an act of terrorism. Hours earlier, a CNN article had revealed that Malik had pledged allegiance to ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi just hours before the attack using a Facebook account made under a different name. A CNN article said that Farook was in contact with at least one person who was being investigated for possible links to terrorist organizations.
The FBI told CNN Friday afternoon that the shooting is being investigated as an act of terrorism.
While the shooting may have been inspired by radical ideology, officials have found no evidence that ISIS had commanded or aided in the attack. Evidence does suggest that the killers were planning an attack. According to the Huffington Post, authorities later found at least 4,500 9 millimeter and .233 calliber rounds, 12 pipe bombs and additional bomb-making equipment in the suspects’ home.
“This is looking more and more like self-radicalization,” a law enforcement official told CNN.
Authorities still say that a workplace dispute over religion may also have motivated the shooters. One of Nicholas Thalasinos was one of coworkers who was killed in the attacks. Thalasinos was a Messianic Jew who often discussed religion and politics and had recently gotten into a “heated, passionate” discussion, according to a friend named Kuuleme Stephens. The Farook family lawyer said that coworkers had occasionally made fun of Farook for his beard.
Farook’s family members expressed shock after the attacks, saying that there had been no indication that their relatives were becoming radical extremists. Neither Farook nor Malik had criminal records or were on terror watch lists. Neighbors described them as quiet people who kept to themselves. An article in the New York Times stated that Farook’s parents were born in Pakistan, but he was born in Illinois and raised in southern California. Malik was born and raised in Pakistan and moved to Saudi Arabia at the age of 19. Both were known for their devout Muslim faith. The two met on a Muslim dating site and married two years ago. Malik came with Farook to the U.S. in July 2014 with a visa that stated Farook was her fiancée. A few months later, Farook applied for a resident green card for her. After passing a background check, she was granted a conditional card last July.
The Huffington Post reported that the couple had made trips to Pakistan and that the FBI had been monitoring Farook, who had been contacting extremists via social media. The Post also reported that Farook may have had experienced family tension growing up. Documents related to his parents’ divorce contained statements from his mother indicating that his father was verbally and physically abusive, mentally ill and an alcoholic.
Just after the news of the shooting broke, President Obama addressed reporters with CBS news. He urged legislators to pass “common sense gun safety laws” and to pass a law that would prevent those on the “No Fly” list from purchasing firearms in the U.S. The Huffington Post says that all four guns used in the attack were purchased legally; however, CNBC cited Burguan, who told reporters that the party from which Farook and Malik obtained the “assault style rifles” is being investigated.