The two suspects in Wednesday’s murderous rampage in San Bernardino were killed in a shootout with police, but while their motives remain unknown, details of their lives are slowly unfolding.
Syed Rizwan Farook, 28, and Tashfeen Malik, 27, are the alleged shooters in the carnage at the Inland Regional Center that left 14 people dead and 21 wounded. According to co-workers, Farook had traveled to Saudi Arabia for two weeks in July 2014 and came back having wed Malik. The couple met online. Malik is from Pakistan but lived in Saudi Arabia before moving to the United States. She had obtained a K1 visa known as a fiance visa. The couple had a sixth-month-old daughter that they had left with Farook’s mother before allegedly attacking the center for developmental disabilities.
Farook had worked at the San Bernardino County Public Health Department as an environmental inspector for the past five years. The shooting occurred at a holiday party hosted by the county health department. Farook had attended the party but reportedly stormed out after a dispute. He returned with Malik and both were clad in military-style armor and carrying handguns and rifles. All of these weapons were legally purchased, according to CNN.
Authorities are still searching for a possible motive. Farook’s father told the New York Daily News his son was “very religious.” According to Farook’s dating profiles, he was a Muslim and his family was religious but modern.
Farook's dating profile on iMilap.com reads:
"religios [sic] but modern family of 4, 2girls 2boys [sic] I work for county as health,safety and envorimental [sic] inspector. Enjoy working on vintage and modern cars, read religios [sic] books, enjoy eating out sometimes travel and just hang out in back yard doing target pratice [sic] with younger sister and friends."
That Farook enjoyed target practice now reads as an ominous detail in light of Wednesday's massacre. Investigators found ammunition, pipe bombs and bomb-making materials in the couple's home in addition to several thousand rounds of ammunition and pipe bombs inside the black SUV the couple drove away in.
Farook was from Chicago, but his parents had migrated from Pakistan.
Co-workers described Farook to the Los Angeles Times as “quiet and polite, with no obvious grudges.”
“He never struck me as a fanatic, he never struck me as suspicious,"Griselda Reisinger, a former colleague of Farook, told the LA Times.
Farook's friend, Chaz Harrison, told CBS News that he was "very passionate" about his religion and that the couple did not want to live in the U.S.
Harrison had never met Malik and mentioned Farook was "very secretive" about her.
"I did not attend his wedding. He was very secretive about his wife. I had to really ask him questions about her for him to tell me anything," Harrison said.
Farook had been communicating with individuals who were being monitored by the FBI due to an association with a terrorism investigation, an anonymous FBI official told the Associated Press. Yet the official said the "people weren't significant players on our radar."
According to the Telegraph, Farook's mother, Rafia Farook, filed for divorce from her husband, also named Syed Farook, in 2006 accusing him of being an abusive alcoholic.
"She enumerated multiple instances of domestic abuse in the legal filing, and said her husband 'threatens to kill himself on a daily basis.' During one incident, she said in a court filing, her son came between them 'to save me.'"
At a press conference for the California chapter of the Council on American Islamic Relations, Farook’s brother-in-law, Farhan Khan, appeared devastated and without answers.
"I have no idea why he would do that,” Khan said. “I am in shock that something like this would happen.”
Banner image credit: Twitter