Heavily armed shooters killed 14 people and injured more than a dozen at holiday gathering in San Bernardino, California on 2 December. The suspects were killed in a gun battle with the police but the investigation is still ongoing.
Words: Mariya Savova, Subeditor: Daisy Greenaway
The shooters, wearing military-style clothing and armed with long guns, stormed into the Inland Regional Center in the city of San Bernardino, California, where county employees were holding a social event. Witnesses said that people locked themselves in offices as soon as they heard the gunfire. 14 people were confirmed dead and 21 were wounded, making this the deadliest mass shooting in the US in the past three years.
Both suspects were killed four hours after the attack, following a shootout with police. They attempted to escape in a black SUV but authorities found them in a nearby residential area.
The two attackers were named as Syed Rizwan Farook, a 28-year-old man, born in Chicago, and his 27-year-old Pakistani-born wife, Tashfeen Malik. A third person who was not identified, was detained close to the shootout but the police then said they were confident the couple were the only ones responsible for the killings.
Police chief Jarrod Burguan said that “there had to be some degree of planning in this” as multiple explosive devices were found at the Inland Regional Center, The Guardian reported. More bomb equipment as well as weapons and thousands of rounds of ammunition were later discovered at the couple’s home.
One of the first police officers to respond to the shootings, Lieutenant Mike Madden, told a media conference: “It was unspeakable, the carnage that we were seeing, the number of people who were injured and unfortunately already dead.”
In an interview with ABC News, President Barack Obama condemned the attacks, as well as the lack of political action to prevent them from happening. “We have a pattern now of mass shootings in this country that has no parallel anywhere in the world,” Obama said. Congress could do more to “improve the odds that they don’t happen as frequently”, he added.
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) December 3, 2015
The motive behind the attacks is not yet known. “It is possible that this was terrorist related but we don’t know. It’s also possible that this was workplace related,” Obama said, speaking from the White House. The FBI have now taken over the investigation from local authorities and so far, there is no hard evidence of a direct connection between the couple and any militant group, officials informed. However, according to report by Reuters, the FBI is examining information indicating that Farook was in contact with individuals who had themselves been under investigation by intelligence services.
The San Bernardino massacre immediately sparked discussion on gun control issues in the US. In the wake of the shooting, many Americans called for tougher gun laws. However, the state of California already has the most restrictive gun laws in the country, due to a highly progressive legislature, which makes Wednesday’s shooting even more shocking.