SAN BERNARDINO (CBSLA.com/AP) – The San Bernardino District Attorney’s Office has released a 55-page report into the fatal double-shooting of the married couple who carried out the rampage at a San Bernardino community center in 2015.
The DA’s office announced Thursday that it determined that the officer-involved shooting of Syed Rizwan Farook and his wife, Tashfeen Malik, was justified.
On the morning of Dec. 2, 2015, Farook and Malik entered the Inland Regional Center armed with assault rifles and handguns and opened fire on a group holding a holiday party. 14 people were killed and 22 more were injured. It was the deadliest terrorist attack to occur on U.S. soil since Sept. 11, 2001.
Farook was an inspector for the San Bernardino County Environmental Health Department and the holiday party was being put on by his coworkers.
A few hours after the mass shooting, authorities followed a tip to the couple’s home in Redlands. As officers approached, the couple fled in a dark SUV. A police pursuit ensued, ending back in San Bernardino, where a prolonged gun battle broke out and the couple were killed. No officers or civilians were injured in the shootout.
“They had hundreds of rounds of ammunition, assault rifles, handguns,” San Bernardino County District Attorney Michael Ramos said. “They were on their way, either back to the location to take out more victims, innocent victims, and peace officers, I truly believe.”
The report details how officers identified the suspects and the gunfight that ensued after officers tried to stop the fleeing couple.
An officer recalled shooting at Farook during the exchange of gunfire and seeing Farook fall but said he continued to clutch his rifle and was shot again.
After her husband was killed, Malik continued to shoot at police from an SUV as she bobbed down in the vehicle for cover, popping up sporadically to shoot at officers.
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Following its review, the DA’s office determined that “all involved officers were legally justified in using deadly force to protect themselves and others.”
HOW POLICE FOUND THE COUPLE
As police officers began arriving at the Inland Regional Center, where the shooting occurred, several victims told the officers that Farook, their co-worker at the county health department, had been at the party but left about a half-hour before the shooting.
One of the assailants, they said, had the same stature and body shape but his face was covered by a mask.
Investigators then learned Farook had rented a black SUV, which matched the description of the assailant’s car, and tracked his cellphone to his home in Redlands. Officers began pursuing the car but as they tried to pull it over, the husband and wife started shooting at officers through the back window of the moving vehicle, the report said.
THE SHOOTOUT WITH FAROOK
Officers pulled behind the SUV as it came to a stop on a residential street and continued to exchange gunfire with the suspects. Farook exited the vehicle and continued firing off bullets from a Smith & Wesson M&P MP-15 semi-automatic rifle that was slung around his body, according to the report.
A San Bernardino police sergeant recalled grabbing a rifle from his son — a fellow officer — and pointing it straight at Farook and shot at him five or six times.
“One of the rounds passed through Farook causing a mist of blood on impact,” the report said. “Farook fell to the ground but was still moving.”
Farook continued to clutch his rifle as he lay on the ground, the sergeant said. The sergeant fired twice more at him.
An autopsy found he was shot 27 times.
Officers say they were able to rescue a woman and her granddaughter who had crouched down in their car when the shooting began. They also evacuated a few homes, fearing there might be pipe bombs nearby.
THE SHOOTOUT WITH MALIK
After her husband was killed, Malik continued to fire at the officers from inside the SUV, officers said. The officers could see a silhouette through the shattered back window and saw Malik ducking down behind a seat for cover as she fired at them.
Officers remarked that it seemed she had been “blindly firing towards the officers rather than taking aim.”
Malik, who was 5-foot-3 (1.6-meter) and weighed 121 pounds (55 kilograms), had an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle slung around her body as she popped up and down, each time firing in spurts. She took cover behind a seat in the vehicle as the officers shot back at her, the report said.
Malik, dressed in all black, was wearing a load-bearing vest with several spare rifle and pistol magazines, along with an airsoft neck protector and black safety glasses. She also had nine loaded 30-round rifle magazines, a loaded 10-round rifle magazine and seven eight-round pistol magazines, according to authorities.
An autopsy found Malik had been shot at least 15 times.
WHAT ELSE WAS FOUND IN THE CAR?
Inside the rented SUV, police also found a black backpack that had 14 rifle and pistol magazines, a military-style ammunition container with 870 rifle cartridges that were loaded into 10-round clips, along with three rifle sighting systems and several bags filled with hundreds of ammunition cartridges.
HOW MANY ROUNDS WERE FIRED?
The suspects fired about 80 rounds from rifles and one bullet from a handgun, the report said. Law enforcement officers shot 440 rounds from rifles, shotguns and handguns. Several nearby homes and cars were struck by bullets, but no civilians were hit during the shootout.
To read the full report, click here.
(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)