Police said an intense hunt for people who opened fire at a holiday party outside Los Angeles ended with the killing of a man and a woman, suspected of shooting, and the detention of a third person.
14 people were killed and 17 others injured at a social services facility east of Los Angeles, according to the San Bernardino Police Department. Police initially sought up to three gunmen, but now they believe the two people killed in a later gunfight were the only militants to participate in the fatal shooting – the worst in the United States since 2012.
Police identified the suspected attackers as Sayed Radwan Farooq, 28, an American who worked for five years in San Bernardino County, and Shefin Malik, 27, whose nationalities were not known. Police said he believed the two were engaged or married.
“I am shocked at the possibility of something like this happening,” Farhan Khan, Faruq’s son-in-law, told a news conference. “I hope everyone understands and (that) the victims recover there.”
Farouk and Malik were “primarily” armed with .30 caliber assault rifles and semi-automatic pistols, according to San Bernardino Police Chief Jarrod Bourgoin. Police also found three explosives at the scene of the shooting.
The suspects were killed in a San Bernardino shootout hours after they were allegedly armed to walk a holiday party at the Inland Regional Center in Building 1300 of S. Waterman Street, where frightened people barricaded themselves in rooms to stay safe from the gunfire.
The facility serves people with developmental disabilities, according to the San Bernardino Police Department. Hundreds of people were inside at the time.
Police said Farouk attended the Eid party and left “in some circumstances described as anger” before the shooting. The shooting erupted between 10 and 30 minutes after Farouk’s departure, according to Burgoyne. Mayor of Burgoyne and San Bernardino Carrie Davis said they were informed of a dispute at a party.
San Bernardino Police Chief confirms mass shooting of crowd
Missing facility The San Bernardino Police Chief spoke to the public for the first time, warning that the suspects would flee after a mass shooting left at least 14 dead.
Pictures from the scene showed law enforcement personnel armed with rifles and wearing protective gear spread across the area, as emergency responders treated many victims on the street.
“No words to describe it”: Witnesses retell the chaos at the San Bernardino shooting
“This is really a tragedy in our country,” said David Boditch, director of the FBI in Los Angeles, who did not rule out the possibility that the shooting was a terrorist attack. “It’s a possibility, but we don’t know that yet.”
Burguan said at a previous press conference that the police “have no information at this stage indicating that this is a terrorist in the traditional sense,” but added, “At least we have an internal terrorist situation that happened here.”
San Bernardino authorities confirm 14 people were killed in shooting
Burguan described the shooters as “well prepared” and “on mission”. The death toll is the deadliest mass shooting in the United States since the killing of 26 children and staff at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, in 2012.
“We must all go home tonight with our loved ones and understand that this could happen at any time,” said Loma Linda Medical Center spokeswoman, Brianna Pastorino, at the end of a press conference. “We hear about these mass shootings all over the country. And I think you all agree that this hit very close to home. It’s home.”
The tip led police later in the day to a home in the Redlands from where the suspects drove police into a chase.
In the afternoon, authorities storm a bullet-riddled SUV in San Bernardino while chasing suspects. Burguan said the two suspects, who were killed by the police, were “wearing offensive clothing.” A police officer was not seriously wounded in the battle.
A third person who was seen fleeing the crossfire has been arrested by the police, but it is not clear if this person was in connection with the massacre.
The indoor regional center serves more than 31,000 people with developmental disabilities in San Bernardino County and neighboring Riverside County, according to the center’s website, which it calls “a private, nonprofit community agency proud to help obtain services and support for our female constituents.”
A man at the scene said that his daughter, who works at the center with people with intellectual disabilities, wrote to him to say that she was hiding in a closet with other people. Another man told his sister with cerebral palsy and attending the center.