Suspect ID’d in San Bernardino Massacre as Syed Farook
CORRECTION 12/3/15 1:41 A.M. An earlier version of this story identified one of the San Bernardino shooters as Syed Raheel Farook, not Syed Rizwan Farook. We sincerely regret the error.
REDLANDS, Calif. — Law enforcement officials have identified Syed Rizwan Farook as one of the suspected shooters who attacked a center for the disabled in San Bernardino, Calif.
On Wednesday afternoon, police raided a home in Redlands, Calif., that belongs to the Farook family, according to public records.
Police pursued an SUV leaving the Redlands address, Chief Jarrod Baraugan said at a Wednesday evening press conference. A male and a female suspect were inside the SUV, and both of them have been killed. Both of the suspects were armed with assault rifles and handguns, Baraugan said. The female suspect was identified as Tashfeen Malik, 27.
“I just cannot express how sad I am for what happened today,” Farhan Khan, Farook's brother-in-law, said at a press conference Wednesday night. “I am in shock myself.”
“My condolences to those who lost their life. I am very sad that people lost their life and there are victims out there. I wish speedy recovery to them,” he added.
An eyewitness at the Inland Regional Center, where 14 were killed and 17 wounded, told police he saw a man leaving a meeting of county health department employees Wednesday morning, looking nervous. Police officers named Syed Farook as that man in their radio communications. At approximately 11 a.m., two people entered the center and opened fire.
During the day on Wednesday, there was confusion about who, exactly, was being named as a suspect in the shooting. There are two Syed Farooks in the greater San Bernardino area. According to a LinkedIn profile, a Syed Raheel Farook was employeed as a business taxes representative for the California State Board of Equalization. This man—who went by his middle name, Raheel—is a 2003 graduate La Sierra High School and most recently studied finance at California State University Fullerton until 2013.
A public records search indicates that Syed Raheel Farook’s mother lives at the Redlands home raided by the police on Wednesday.
However, it is Syed Rizwan Farook, an environmental health specialist at the San Bernardino County Health Department, whom the police named Wednesday night as the shooting suspect.
Adding to the confusion is that the two Syed R. Farooks are apparently brothers.
During the Wednesday press conference, Farhan Khan and Hussam Ayloush, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations-Los Angeles, were shown what was purported to be picture of the suspect.
“No. That’s not him,” Ayloush said. "That’s the other brother. That’s the older brother, that’s Raheel.”
In other words, Rizwan was the suspected shooter.
That wasn't clear ealier on Wednesday, when The Daily Beast knocked on the door of a home in Corona that belonged to Sayed Raheel Farook, according to public records. The Daily Beast was at the door met by a man who said, “My name is Farook.” When asked if he knew Syed, the man said, “Of course I know him, but I have nothing to say.” When asked about Syed being named as a suspect, he said, “I have nothing to say.”
Behind Farook was a brightly lit home with low-slung sectional couches and boxes for appliances. The smell of basmati rice cooking came wafting through the door. A set of women’s sandals sat outside the security door.
Five minutes after he answered the door, the man identified as Farook got into a white car and drove away, answering questions again with, “I have nothing to say.”
The Daily Beast contacted Syed Raheel Farook’s sister, Saira Khan, by phone on Wednesday shortly after the shooting. She said the media was jumping to conclusions in identifying the suspect and said her brother was at work. Khan said she would try to get in touch with her brother and pass along his contact information.
The Daily Beast also contacted Saira’s husband, Farhan Khan, Wednesday afternoon. When asked whether he knows Syed Farook, Khan seemed doubtful.
But when asked about the full name, “Syed Raheel Farook,” Khan affirmed that he knew him. He said he had contact information for Farook but would not provide it to The Daily Beast; instead, he also said he would contact him himself.
In the neighborhood in Redlands neighborhood where the Farook family kept its home—and where police executed their search—it was trash day. Typically that’s not a big deal, but on this day all of those green, black, and blue barrels looked suspicious—the perfect place to hide an explosive device.
There was good reason to be on edge. In front of the condo complex where the Farook family lived is a SWAT vehicle, and though it was hard to see anything in the darkness, apparently a bomb-defusing robot had been going between the vehicle and the condo unit.
At almost exactly 6:30 p.m. what sounded distinctly like a shotgun blast came from the condo complex. It shook up the gaggle of local news people who were setting up their stand-ups. At that point, a huge contingent of press and neighborhood looky-loos was gathered behind a police cordon a little less than a football field away from the complex.
About 20 minutes after the blast, police pushed the press line back two blocks to the north so it was about a half a mile away and unable to see anything. The officer said there was a threat and the press needed to move back for safety.
A Daily Beast reporter slipped through the cordon and down a side street, and was able to get a direct view of the condo, where there were orange flashing lights that looked like they were on top of a pole that was coming out of a truck. The homes, some of which had been decorated in Christmas lights, seemed largely abandoned. Besides the SWAT officers and press, the neighborhood was entirely silent.