December 2015 – SAN BERNARDINO, CA. – Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik, the heavily armed couple who authorities say unleashed volleys of gunfire on a holiday party in San Bernardino, had amassed an armory of weapons and explosives in their Redlands home, including a dozen pipe bombs and thousands of rounds of ammunition, officials said Thursday. The arsenal suggested a level of planning that added to investigators’ concern that Wednesday’s shootings, which left 14 dead and 21 injured, were far more than a spontaneous response to a workplace dispute. “Certainly they were equipped and they could have continued to do another attack. … We intercepted them,” San Bernardino police Chief Jarrod Burguan said at a news conference Thursday.
A senior federal government official told The Times that Farook was in contact with a small number of suspected extremists. There are also indications that the 28-year-old gunman communicated with at least one person who is currently being monitored as a potential terror suspect, the source said. Farook’s connection to the potential terror suspect may only be tangential, the source said, but the link suggests there may be a “deeper terror matrix” behind the San Bernardino shootings. While news of the couple’s weapons cache and Farook’s possible links to extremism appeared unsettling, government officials refrained from calling the shootings an act of terror on Thursday.
Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank), the ranking minority member of the House Intelligence Committee who has been briefed on the investigation, said Thursday that federal agents have yet to turn up evidence that Farook was “radicalized.” Farook and Malik fired at least 65 shots when they stormed the office party in a conference room at the Inland Regional Center, where Farook had earlier been involved in some kind of dispute. Hours later, Farook and Malik exchanged fire with police in a firefight on San Bernardino’s streets, launching bullets into homes and terrifying residents who had already been rocked by the mass shooting earlier in the day. When they searched Farook and Malik’s home, police recovered a dozen pipe bombs, 2,000 9-millimeter handgun rounds, 2,500 .223-caliber assault rifle rounds and “hundreds of tools” that could have been used to make additional explosive devices, Burguan said.
In the attack on the party, Farook and Malik used two assault rifles and two semiautomatic handguns, all of which were purchased legally, according to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. As authorities continued to look into the backgrounds of the husband and wife responsible for America’s deadliest mass shooting since 2012, investigators and legislators from California to Washington, D.C., tried to understand what motivated the shooters. Speaking at the White House on Thursday morning, President Obama said the FBI was now leading the investigation into the attack at the Inland Regional Center. Investigators have yet to rule out terrorism as a motive, but police have also said that Farook was involved in a dispute at the party for employees of the San Bernardino County Department of Public Health shortly before the gunfire broke out.
“We do know that the two individuals who were killed were equipped with weapons and appeared to have access to additional weaponry at their homes,” Obama said. “But we don’t know why they did it. We don’t know at this point the extent of their plans. We do not know their motivations.” Schiff (D-Burbank), who has been briefed twice on the probe into the shootings, echoed those sentiments. “They’re not ready to draw conclusions, but looking at anyone they were involved with that could shed light on what their motivations were,” he said. “The FBI is chasing down leads foreign and domestic, and looking for any evidence of radicalization and external actors” who might have encouraged or directed the attack from abroad. During a news conference Thursday, Burguan said the suspects had 1,400 assault rifle rounds and 200 handgun rounds in their car as they fled from police. The couple fired 76 rounds at officers during the shootout, and officers shot 380 rounds in return. Burguan said he believed the suspects shot first. –LA Times