Landlord Invites Media Into Home Of Suspected San Bernardino Shooters

Dec 4, 2015
Originally published on December 4, 2015 6:53 pm
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The FBI is now investigating the mass shooting in San Bernardino, Calif., this week as an act of terrorism. But it's still not clear whether the suspects had ties to any terrorist groups. At a news conference this afternoon, attorneys for the family of suspect Syed Farook cautioned people not to jump to conclusions in a case that is still ongoing. NPR's Nathan Rott has more from San Bernardino.

NATHAN ROTT, BYLINE: Since the mass shooting happened on Wednesday, people have been asking for a motive. Why would two shooters go into a county building just before a holiday party and open fire? Local and federal authorities are still trying to work out exactly what that motive was, what triggered the attack. But David Bowdich, assistant director of the FBI's Los Angeles office, says they have enough information to investigate the shooting as an act of terror.

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DAVID BOWDICH: We have uncovered evidence that has led us to learn of extensive planning.

ROTT: Both of the suspects - 28-year-old Syed Rizwan Farook and his wife, 27-year-old Tashfeen Malik - were heavily armed. They both wore black tactical gear and masks during the attack. They were armed with two assault rifles and two semiautomatic handguns, all of which police say were legally bought. In their black SUV, where both suspects were later killed during a shootout with police, investigators found 1,400 assault rifle rounds and 200 handgun rounds. That was on top of thousands of rounds and 12 pipe bombs that were found at the couple's house in Redlands. Based off of that, investigators knew that there was a large degree of planning that went into an attack. It's unclear if they had any help or direction in that planning, though.

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BOWDICH: I don't have the answer to any direction. Were they inspired? We do not yet know the answer.

ROTT: A federal source familiar with the situation told NPR that Malik pledged her support to the leader of the Islamic State on social media around the time of the attack. Attorneys for her husband's family, though, held a news conference later in the day, urging people not to jump to conclusions. Here's attorney David Chesley.

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DAVID CHESLEY: The entire world is (unintelligible) for information, and the most we've gotten so far is, somebody looked at something on Facebook. That's all we got so far - so far.

ROTT: Attorney Mohammad Abuershaid says Farook's family didn't know Malik very well, and she was religiously traditional and very private.

MOHAMMAD ABUERSHAID: The women would sit with the women, and the men would sit with the men. So the men did not interact with her. And the brothers did not actually every see her face. They'd never seen her face 'cause she did wear a burqa. So they just knew her as Syed's wife.

ROTT: Little is known of Malik, but journalists and TV viewers got a glimpse into her and Farook's like earlier today as a strange scene unfolded at their home in Redlands. The police officer at the end of their street removed police tape from a corner as a horde of media entered and stood outside of the house that the two rented here. Eighty-one-year-old Doyle Miller owns the property.

Why did you decide to open this place up?

DOYLE MILLER: I need to take a look at it. So I've got to get it cleaned out, and I've got to get it repaired - fix and clean things up and get it back in order.

ROTT: Miller says that he had permission from the FBI to enter the house and do just that.

MILLER: They just called me last night. And they said, well, it's OK to go in; you got the apartment back.

ROTT: So earlier today, he came back to the house, removed the plywood board that had been placed over the entrance because the regular door had been knocked in and went inside. The scene inside played live on major television networks, showing an apartment with bare walls and modest furniture. Splayed on the bed were photos of the two suspects, driver's licenses and Social Security cards, prayer beads and a copy of the Quran. Miller says he had never met Malik, but he had met Farook a few times. And that he was quiet, but he always paid his rent on time and was respectful.

MILLER: He looked like a nice, clean-cut young man. That's all I can say.

ROTT: Neighbors gathered across the street from the scene and watched. Jean Hammond (ph) says she saw as the FBI and law enforcement officers left the house earlier this morning and as they pulled the police tape down. This is her first time out on the street near the house, she says, because everything about the event has been just so awful.

JEAN HAMMOND: It's too close to home.

ROTT: After a bit, a woman went and closed the entrance to the house with a plywood board, and the neighbors went back inside to search for their own answers. Nathan Rott, NPR News, San Bernardino. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.