Syed Farook and Tashfeen Malik: What we know about the San Bernardino shooters

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Gunman worked for the county public health department and opened fire on colleagues at Christmas party with Tashfeen Malik.

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           Two of the gunmen shot dead by police after a deadly attack on a Christmas party in California have been named as Syed Farook and Tashfeen Malik. It is believed they were either married or in a relationship.

Who is Farook?

Colleagues and public records said Farook, 28, worked as an environmental health specialist for five years, part of San Bernardino County’s public health department which was holding the party he attacked.

After fleeing the scene of the shooting police closed in on his house in nearby Redlands. One man and a woman were shot dead as he fled in a black 4×4. A third suspect escaped on foot before being detained.

Farhan Khan (centre), brother-in-law of San Bernardino, shooting suspect Syed Farook, speaks at the Council on American-Islamic Relations during a news conference in Anaheim, California
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His brother-in-law, Farhan Khan, told a news conference he last spoke to Farook a week ago and offered his family’s condolences to anyone affected.

“I have no idea why he’d do it,” he said. “Why would he do it? Why would he do something like this?

“I’m in shock myself. I am a normal person.”

Griselda Reisinger, a former colleague, said Farook worked as a food inspector for the department.

“He was very quiet,” she told The Los Angeles Times. “I would say hi and bye, but we never engaged him in conversation. He didn’t say much at all.”

She added that he had recently returned from paternity leave.

Screen grab of the scene of the aftermath of the San Bernardino shooting, California
Screen grab of the scene of the aftermath of the San Bernardino shooting, California

A man who identified himself as Farook’s father told The New York Daily News his son worked as a health technician inspecting restaurants and hotels.

“I haven’t heard anything. He worked in a county office,” he said. “He’s married and has a kid. We’re estranged because my wife got the divorce, and they are together. She doesn’t want to see me.”

He added that he had not seen his son for some time.

“He was very religious. He would go to work, come back, go to pray, come back. He’s Muslim.”

Farook’s name first emerged after the two masked shooters opened fire at the party. Over a radio transmission, an officer could be heard telling a dispatcher that Farook was “acting nervous” and had walked out of the party 20 minutes before the shooting began. Other reports suggested he had been asked to leave.

The attackers were armed with handguns and rifles, and were dressed in camouflage clothing.

Meredith Davis, a spokeswoman for the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms, told NBC News: “With my experience with other mass shootings, there are indicators that this was well planned out.

“It was to be violent in nature.

“They were in tactical gear, I don’t know if they had ballistic protection… And had several several magazines full of ammunition fashioned to their bodies. So they were ready for a gunfight should that occur.”

Police officers secure the area after at least one person opened fire at a social services agency in San Bernardino, California
Police officers secure the area after at least one person opened fire at a social services agency in San Bernardino, California

Who is Malik?

There is currently scant detail about Tashfeen Malik, the second shooter, but San Bernardino police chief Jarrod Burguan said she was 27 years old.

Mr Burguan said: “We’re pretty comfortable that the two shooters that went into the building are the two shooters deceased on San Bernardino Avenue.”

“The first one is Syed, Rizwan, last name Farook. He is 28 years old. I am told that he is US-born. The person that was with him is a female. Her name is Tashfeen, last name Malik. She is 27 years old.”

Rescue crews tend to the injured in the intersection outside the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino, California
Rescue crews tend to the injured in the intersection outside the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino, California

Malik and Farook were husband and wife, according to the Los Angeles Times newspaper, while the police would only say they were “in a relationship”.

However, Farook’s colleagues at the Inland Regional Centre – where 14 people were shot dead and another 17 were wounded – told the LA Times that he had gone to Saudi Arabia and returned with a new wife, whom he had met online. An unnamed family member identified the wife as Malik.

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