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Suspects in San Bernardino massacre purchased weapons legally

5 years 10 months 2 weeks ago Thursday, December 03 2015 Dec 3, 2015 December 03, 2015 10:23 AM December 03, 2015 in News
Source: Associated Press

SAN BERNARDINO - Police say they believe the man and woman killed in a gun battle with police after Wednesday's mass shooting were a heavily armed county worker and his wife who targeted his co-workers from the Department of Public Health while they were holding a celebration.

San Bernardino Police Chief Jarrod Burguan identified the woman killed in the gun battle as 27-year-old Tashfeen Malik. The other suspect was previously identified as 28-year-old Syed Farook. Relatives have said the two were married.

Police believe they were the only two shooters in the incident, which killed 14 people. There were initially reports of a possible third shooter.

On Thursday police returned to the couple's home in neighboring Redlands, about seven miles from the Inland Regional Center. A black sedan parked outside the home was also searched, and a bomb squad swept the building Wednesday with robots. The home is where officers initially saw a vehicle matching the description of the suspects' SUV in the hours before the final gun battle which killed them.

U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch said on Thursday the Justice Department will offer "any and all assistance necessary" as the investigation into the shooting continues. Lynch says the government doesn't know a lot yet about the incident, but the FBI, U.S. Marshals Service and other federal authorities have been dispatched.

Federal authorities said the two assault rifles and two handguns used in the massacre were all purchased legally in the U. S., and two of the guns were bought by someone who's now under investigation. Meredith Davis of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives says investigators are now working to make a connection to the last legal purchaser.

She says all four guns were bought four years ago but she's not saying whether they were purchased out of state or how and when they got into the hands of the two shooters. Davis says California requires paperwork when guns change hands privately but many other states don't.

She also says the rifles involved were .223-caliber - powerful enough to pierce the standard protective vest worn by police officers, and some types of ammo can even plow through walls.

Farook was an environmental specialist with the county health department who sometimes worked at the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino. Burguan told reporters that Farook angrily left an office holiday party earlier Wednesday before returning with Malik.

Farhan Khan, who is married to the sister of Syed Farook, spoke to reporters Wednesday at the Anaheim office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. Khan says he last spoke to Farook about a week ago. He added that he had "absolutely no idea why he would do this. I am shocked myself."

Khan says other family members asked him to speak at the news conference, and to express their sadness over the shootings.

James Ramos, chairman of the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors, said they will close most county offices for the rest of the week because of the shootings. Ramos said only the most essential services will remain open Thursday and Friday.

The Inland Regional Center helps people with disabilities find work and get treatment, housing and transportation. Ramos says supervisors will try to help everyone affected by tragedy.

President Barack Obama said Thursday it's possible the mass shooting was related to terrorism, but authorities still don't know. He says it's possible it was workplace-related or that there were mixed motives.

Obama assured Americans that authorities will get to the bottom of what happened and called for people to wait for facts before making judgments.

The president said many Americans feel there's nothing they can do about mass violence, but "we all have a part to play." The president says the nation must make it harder to carry out violence but acknowledged that the threat can't be eliminated completely. He says it will be important for all Americans, including state legislatures, to see what they can do.

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