A young married couple carried out a deadly shooting rampage in San Bernardino Wednesday that left 14 dead and 21 injured. If not for the cooperative work of law enforcement, media and citizens, that number could have been much higher.
Officials have named Syed Rizwan Farook, 28, and his wife Tashfeen Malik, 27, as the shooters and said the couple was armed with weapons purchased legally. They carried out the attacks using two handguns and two assault rifles, The New York Times reports.
Following the story closely was harrowing, to say the least. As the dust settles and new information is released it will be human nature to focus on what might have been done differently, what might have stopped this from happening in the first place.
And while this is human nature, those who put their lives on the line and assisted in bringing this horrifying event to an end should not be forgotten.
It was a tip from the public that led officers to a home connected to Farook and Malik. The couple had allegedly attended a business party that morning, left the party for a short time, returned just before 11 a.m. and opened fire on a room of 200 plus people. Fourteen were killed, 21 others injured, some very seriously injured and fighting for their lives today.
Media flew overhead and gave tips to police, careful not to zoom in too closely to reveal police strategy or to expose the public to horrific scenes. They were careful to withhold information that could hinder law enforcement from doing their jobs.
The stress and fear of these horrifying events were not limited to the City of San Bernardino. It was spread far and wide, to all who had loved ones in the area and to all who were concerned this could be an act of terrorism, similar to what we recently saw in Paris. For hours these individuals were free, sparking fear and concern for those living anywhere near the area.
The LA Times, reports Farook and Malik had just dropped their six-month-old infant daughter off at grandma’s house.
Once again the couple fled in a rented black SUV. They headed back to the area where the killings occurred that morning. They were met by a swarm of law enforcement officials. A massive gun battle ensued between the couple and law enforcement. The suspects were both killed, two officers suffered only minor injuries. There were no injured citizens during the gun battle that took place on a neighborhood street filled with homes.
It is apparent that the tactical and methodical way law enforcement handled the situation brought the situation to an end without more bloodshed. They did an exemplary job at keeping people off the streets and in their homes, offices, school buildings, etc. until they were certain the threat had come to an end.
Watching their every move during those moments (after the shootout and before they knew if there were explosives or anyone alive inside the vehicle) was frightening, to say the least. It was also an eye-opener as to how well-trained local, state and federal law enforcement officials really are.
The building where the shooting occurred Wednesday morning housed hundreds of employees who work to help needy families and people with disabilities. Fortunately, not many families would be in the building at any one time. These people work in the field, going to families rather than families coming to them. It was initially believed disabled individuals were housed in the building.
After the shooting that began and 10:59 a.m., police had to clear the building of over 650 people. Those people all had to be cleared of being involved with the shooters and then transported to safe locations. Schools offered the use of school buses and the community worked together to get people to safety and reconnected with their loved ones.
Before they were released, many were hiding in closets, trying to stay safe, texting family. Parents received terrifying texts from their adult children explaining their predicament, then many of their phones went dead. Imagine getting a text from your kid that they’re locked in a closet while the building they’re in is being riddled by gunfire, not knowing how many people are involved, not knowing what the outcome will be.
Federal officials say Syed Rizwan Farook, 28, was Pakistani. Farook was an American citizen born in the U.S. His co-workers described him as quiet and polite. They said he was a devout Muslin. Farook met his wife Tashfeen Malik, 27, online a few years ago.
Farook visited Pakistan last year and Malik entered the United States from Pakistan in July 2014. She traveled on a Pakistani passport and entered the U.S. on a K-1 visa, a 90-day visa given to fiancés planning to marry Americans. They later applied for, and were granted, a permanent resident green card for Malik. According to the New York Times, she was given a conditional green card.