Fox News reported the name of perhaps the lead suspect, “Syed Farook” that is in play as the lead suspect involved in the massacre at a Holiday party at a San Bernadino, California, Development Disabled facility late Wednesday morning, December 2, 2015. Farook and Tashfeen Malik were in the bullet riddled black SUV killed by Police, they were equipped in black tactical gear, body armor, AK -47 assault weapons with 30 round clips and hand guns. A third possible suspect was seen running away, unclear whether it might a bystander not involved with the attack.
The Los Angeles Times in late breaking news reported:
Syed Farook, an inspector for the San Bernardino County Public Health Department, had traveled to Saudi Arabia, married, had a child, and appeared to be “living the American dream,” co-workers said today. They were stunned after law enforcement sources identified a man named Syed Farook as a suspect in the mass shooting at the department’s holiday party.
CAIR National held an extraordinary late night news conference with a relative of the suspect Farook expressing concern that Farrok and Tashfeen Malik had been missing since late morning. The CAIR news conference was endeavoring to condemn a possible terrorist attack, distancing American Muslims from an apparent Jihad attack or a rumored disgruntled former employee “going postal”. Both the San Bernadino police and the FBI are remaining circumspect for the moment pursuing leads and social networks of the suspects to determine if there is a wide network behind the attack, or an isolated, perhaps ISIS inspired cell. FBI Director Comey had announced surveillance of 48 high risk suspects during the recent Thanksgiving holiday period. Further the FBI is investigating 1,000 ISIS influenced persons of interest in all 50 states. 70 arrests have been made so far.
The Fox News report cited the venue and circumstances that set the stage to this deadly assault:
The Inland Regional Center is one of 21 facilities serving people with developmental disabilities run by the state, said Nancy Lungren, spokeswoman for the California Department of Developmental Services. The social services agency administers, authorizes and pays for assistance to people with disabilities such as autism and mental retardation. On an average day, doctors at the regional centers would be evaluating toddlers whose parents have concerns and case workers meeting with developmentally disabled adults.
The San Bernardino facility consists of three buildings, and employs approximately 600 workers. Inland Regional Center Executive Director Lavinia Johnson told Reuters the shooting happened at a conference center her group rented out for a San Bernardino Health Department county personnel holiday party.
The shoot out in San Bernadino that claimed the lives of the two suspects in the black SUV occurred four hours after the massacre at the Inland Regional Center. It raised speculations about why the perpetrators loitered in the vicinity for four hours , monitoring police reports about their dastardly accomplishment or reloading for an attack on pursuing police officers and SWAT teams. They had calmly walked into the party methodically shot and killed their victims and walked away virtually unidentified . The carnage they left behind was reminiscent of a Paris Charlie Hebdo or November 13th café or Bataclan concert hall massacre. It also was reminiscent of the Mumbai Jihadi attack in November 2008. San Bernadino Police chief Jarrod Burguan said:
“It’s a possibility, but we don’t know that yet, “when asked at an evening news conference if the attack was an act of terrorism.”We will go where the evidence takes us. They came prepared to do what they did as if on a mission.”
The identification of suspect Syed Farook led to a raid on a townhouse in nearby Redlands, California with Police, FBI and ATF personnel sending in robots to investigate whether it was booby trapped. The police during the pursuit of the slain suspects spoke of pipe bombs being tossed out of SUV, a tactic used by Middle East terrorist groups to keep counterterrorism squads away from following them. It was the same method used by the Tsarneavs brothers when pursued by Police following the Boston Marathon Massacre
What was clear was the increasing involvement of the FBI in the investigation given suspicions that this could possibly be a terrorist event, not the deranged hostage shoot out that occurred at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs, Colorado last weekend killing three and wounding nine others.
Fox News noted:
The FBI was also on hand, and spokesman David Bowdich acknowledged that “adjustments” had been made in the investigation with an eye on the possibility terrorism was involved.
“It’s a possibility, but we are not willing to go down that road yet,” Bowdich said.
The Los Angeles Times reported:
Following the events at the facility, police used a bomb squad robot to search the building for possible explosives. A device found inside was detonated, but it was not clear if it was a bomb. Burguan said at a 5:30 p.m. news conference that authorities were still going through the building and believe there could be one or more bombs there.
Tight-lipped authorities offered no motive for the attack, citing the ongoing investigation. There were reports that one may have been at the facility earlier, possibly to verify the presence of someone targeted for death, only to return with two more gunmen to unleash horror. Another report, in the Los Angeles Times, had the man getting into an argument at the party and returning with armed henchmen.
Employees, who undergo monthly training drills to prepare for active shooter situations, initially thought the incident was a drill. But when real bullets flew, several hid in closets, barricaded themselves in rooms or fled for their lives.
Now, the nation awaits further developments from both Police and FBI investigations about the missing third suspect. There is rising concern that the two suspects killed in their SUV in a hail of police bullets may have been Jihadis perpetrating the San Bernadino holiday party massacre. Stay tuned for developments.
EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in the New English Review. The featured image is of Syed Farook.