Shooting in San Bernardino kills at least 14; two suspects dead

Police say motive hasn’t been determined; it’s the worst mass shooting since the Newtown school attack 3 years ago.

Updated - November 16, 2021 04:17 pm IST

Published - December 04, 2015 01:52 am IST - San Bernandino

A victim is wheeled away on a stretcher following a shooting that killed multiple people at a social services facility, Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2015, in San Bernardino, Calif. (David Bauman/The Press-Enterprise via AP)  MAGS OUT; MANDATORY CREDIT; LOS ANGELES TIMES OUT

A victim is wheeled away on a stretcher following a shooting that killed multiple people at a social services facility, Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2015, in San Bernardino, Calif. (David Bauman/The Press-Enterprise via AP) MAGS OUT; MANDATORY CREDIT; LOS ANGELES TIMES OUT

A heavily armed man and woman terrorised this city on Wednesday, killing at least 14 people and wounding at least 17 at a social services centre before leading the police on a manhunt culminating in a shootout that left the two suspects dead, the authorities said.

Panic, chaos and rumour gripped this largely working-class community about 60 miles east of Los Angeles as the attackers carried out the nation’s worst mass shooting since the assault on an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, nearly three years ago.

Chief Jarrod Burguan of the San Bernardino Police Department identified the two suspects as Syed Rizwan Farook, 28, and Tashfeen Malik, 27. Farook was born in the U.S. Family members say they were married and had a 6-month-old daughter.

Mr. Burguan said it was not clear if a third person taken into custody after the shootout with the police was involved.

“We are reasonably confident that we have two shooters and we have two dead suspects,” he said.

Farook, an environmental inspector, had been employed with the county health department for five years. On Wednesday morning, he attended a holiday party for the department at the Inland Regional Center, a sprawling facility that provides services for thousands of people with disabilities. He left “angry” after a dispute of some sort, the chief said, and returned with Malik around 11 a.m. — heavily armed.

“There had to be some degree of planning that went into this,” Mr. Burguan said.

He said the motive had not been determined. “We have not ruled out terrorism,” he said.

Farook and Malik were armed with .223-caliber assault rifles and semi-automatic handguns.

While shots rang out, others in the building cowered and hid, sending out texts. Mr. Burguan said that most of the victims were found in one part of that building but that it took hours to render the scene safe. The attackers left three explosive devices behind, and the authorities were only starting to process the scene and could not identify any of the victims late Wednesday.

As the suspects fled in a black SUV, large parts of the city were paralysed throughout the day.

Residents were told to remain indoors, and government buildings, stores, offices and at least one school were either closed or put on lockdown. Yellow school buses filled with survivors of the shooting were escorted by police vans to meet anxious relatives at a church.

Late in the afternoon, dozens of heavily armed police officers in tactical gear descended on a residential neighborhood in pursuit of the attackers. Witnesses described a wild scene as dozens of officers closed in on a vehicle, with hundreds of shots fired as the people in the vehicle battled the police. Mr. Burguan said there were at least 20 officers involved in the gunbattle.

— The New York Times News Service

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