SAN BERNARDINO (CBSLA.com) — The brother-in-law of Syed Rizwan Farook, the man who has been named as a suspect in connection with the San Bernardino mass shooting, says he is “in shock.”
The shooting at the Inland Regional Center in the 1300 block of South Waterman Avenue unfolded just before 11 a.m. Wednesday.
Fourteen people were killed, while 17 others were wounded. A motive for the killings remained unknown, although Chief Jarrod Burguan of the San Bernardino Police Department said San Bernardino County employees had gathered for a holiday party.
“Mr. Farook is a county employee. He works with his title as an environmental specialist in the Public Health Department. Has been employed there for five years,” Burguan said.
Burguan said Farook was at the party but left early “under some circumstances that were described as angry or something of that nature.”
Late Wednesday, officers following up on a tip were led to a home in Redlands where they made contact with the suspects’ vehicle, described as a black SUV.
That resulted in a pursuit, which terminated in a gun battle between the suspects and more than 20 officers, according to Burguan.
“The two suspects that were in that car are both deceased,” said Burguan, who identified them as Farook, 28, and Tashfeen Malik, 27.
Burguan did not have additional information on Malik’s origin, although the Los Angeles Times reported that Farook had traveled to Saudi Arabia and returned with Malik. They reportedly met online. Authorities said a third person was detained after running from the scene of the gunbattle.
Prior to the release of the suspect’s name, David Bowdich, the assistant director in charge of the FBI field office in Los Angeles, said at an afternoon news conference that the agency was not prepared to state that the shooting was an act of terrorism nor rule it out as a possibility.
“I know one of the big questions that will come up repeatedly is ‘Is this terrorism?’ And I am still not willing to say that we know for sure,” Bowdich said. “We are definitely making some movements that it is a possibility. We are making some adjustments to our investigation. It is a possibility, but we don’t know that yet.”
CBS Los Angeles has been able to tie Farook to an address in Redlands where authorities executed a search warrant late Wednesday.
Farook was a U.S. citizen.
His father, the elder Syed Farook, reportedly told the New York Daily News that the suspect was “very religious.” The publication quoted the father as saying: “He was very religious. He would go to work, come back, go to pray, come back. He’s Muslim.”
The father also reportedly told the Daily News that he had been estranged from his son after a divorce from his mother.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations condemned the mass shooting during an emergency meeting Wednesday. Farhan Khan, the suspect’s brother-in-law, attended the meeting and said: “I have no idea. I have no idea why would he do something like that.”
Khan said he spoke Farook a week ago.
“I just cannot express how sad I am for, you know, what happened today. My condolences for those who lost their lives,” he said. “I am in shock that something like this could happen.”
“On behalf of my family, we all are shocked and are deeply sorry for what happened. We all are just completely shocked. We have no idea that something [like] this could happen,” he added.
The executive director for CAIR confirmed that Farook and Malik had been married for two years and have a 6-month-old daughter, who they had left with a grandparent.
They reportedly told that person they had a doctor’s appointment before leaving the child. The baby remains with relatives.
Farook has no criminal record but had minor traffic violations.