The two people who carried out the attack in San Bernardino, California, last week had been radicalized for “quite some time” and visited gun ranges for “target practice” in the days leading up to the assault, officials said Monday.
Syed Rizwan Farook, a 28-year-old US citizen, and Tashfeen Malik, 27, participated in target practice days before opening fire on a company event at the Inland Regional Center, in an attack that left 14 people dead and injured at least 21 more.
“We do have evidence that both of these subjects participated in target practice in some ranges within the Los Angeles metro area,” David Bowdich, the assistant director of the FBI’s Los Angeles office, told reporters in a press conference Monday. “That target practice, on one occasion, was done within days of this event.”
Bowdich said that investigators had still not pinpointed a motive, but had reason to believe that both had been radicalized “for quite some time.”
He added that there is no evidence, so far, that the plot had been coordinated with anyone living outside of the US, corroborating FBI director James Comey’s statements on Friday that “we have no indication so far that these killers are part of an organised larger group or form part of a cell.”
Still, the FBI is investigating the attack as an act of terrorism.
“This investigation is massive in scale,” Bowdich said. “We have conducted well over 400 interviews by now of people around this city.”
Malik reportedly pledged her allegiance to ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi on Facebook shortly after the attack began.
An agent from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives said Monday that five guns had been recovered either at the scene or at the suspects’ home. They had all been purchased from federal firearms licensees in California between 2007-2012.
Farook himself had purchased the semiautomatic handguns recovered at the scene. his former neighbour, Enrique Marquez Jr., 29, had purchased the two .223-calibre assault rifles that had been used in the massacre.
It is still unclear if Marquez had a role in planning the attack. Bowdich told reporters he was “not prepared to discuss Mr. Marquez at this point” when asked about Marquez’s status.
Farook and Malik were a married couple with a 6-month-old daughter. Farook was a US citizen whose parents were from Pakistan. Malik was from Pakistan but had a K-1 visa — known as a “fiancé” visa — that allowed her to travel to the US to marry Farook. The couple married in 2014. Malik then obtained a green card, and thus permanent legal residence, in the summer of 2015, ABC reported.
Both died as they were being pursued by police on Wednesday, firing 76 rifle rounds before they were ultimately neutralized, San Bernardino Police Chief Jarrod Burguan said in a press conference last week.
When police searched the suspects’ home, they found “several hundred” .22 long-rifle rounds, “12 pipe bomb-type devices” in the garage, “hundreds of tools, many of which could be used to construct IEDs or pipe bombs,” 2,000 9 mm rounds, and 2,500 .223 rounds of ammunition.
“They came prepared to do what they did as if they were on a mission. They came in with a purpose,” Burguan said, noting that Farook and Malik were dressed in tactical gear when they opened fire. “They came in with the intent to do something.”
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