NBCNews| Syed Rizwan Farook, 28, who was born in Chicago, and his wife, Tashfeen Malik, 27, were killed in a shootout with police a few miles away from the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino where the couple unleashed the bloodbath on Wednesday and tried to slaughter more with a rigged pipe bomb that never detonated, authorities said Thursday. More than four hours after the rampage, the couple, clad in black tactical gear but not bulletproof vests, fired 76 more rifle rounds during a pursuit with police, San Bernardino Police Chief Jarrod Burguan told reporters. Officers returned about 380 rounds. Authorities said they are still trying to decide why Farook and his wife attacked the Inland Regional Center. “We do not know the motive. … It would be irresponsible of me and be way too early to speculate on motive,” said David Bowdich, assistant director in charge of the FBI in Los Angeles. “There was obviously a mission here,” Bowdich said. “We do not know why. We do not know if this was the intended target or something triggered him.”
But authorities told NBC News on Thursday that Farook appeared to have been radicalized. They said he had been in touch with people in the Los Angeles area who have expressed jihadi-oriented views. Intelligence sources told NBC News that Farook appeared to have been in some form of communication with people overseas who are persons of interest to U.S. authorities. Farook and Malik had two .223 caliber assault-style rifles — a Smith & Wesson M&P 15 and a DPMS model — that were legally purchased and registered, Burguan said. They also had two 9mm semiautomatic handguns. They appeared to have tried to change one of the rifles to be fully automatic, a senior law enforcement source told NBC News on Thursday. The change failed, the source said.
A fully automatic weapon fires multiple rounds with one pull of the trigger, while each shot from a semiautomatic weapon requires a separate trigger pull.
The second rifle — possessed by Malik — was compliant with California’s strict gun laws when it was purchased, but it had been modified to accept high-capacity magazines, the source said. Farook and Malik used what appeared to be multiple 30-round rifle magazines, some of which were taped together.
In total, the pair carried more than 1,400 .223 caliber rounds and 200 more 9mm rounds during the gun battle. The three pipe bombs found at the social services center were stitched together on a remote-controlled car, but for whatever reason, it didn’t explode, he said.
A search of a home connected with the couple turned up 12 pipe-bomb-type devices and a cache of ammunition, Burguan said — including 2,000 9mm rounds, 2,500 .233 caliber rounds and several hundred .22 Long Rifle rounds.
Police also confirmed that the couple had rented a black Ford Expedition three or four days before the attack. The car, which was supposed to have been returned Wednesday, was used as their getaway.
Farook, a San Bernardino County health inspector, initially attended the office Christmas banquet on Wednesday morning, but he left about 15 to 30 minutes before the shooting began around 11 a.m. (2 p.m. ET), officials said. Police received information by someone who was concerned about his behavior at the event.
CNN| Farook contacted more than one terrorism subject who the FBI were already investigating, according to other law enforcement officials. But his contacts with them were scarce and months old.
David Bowdich, assistant director in charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles office, told reporters Thursday that Farook had traveled to Pakistan.
And two government officials said no red flags were raised when he’d gone to Saudi Arabia for several weeks in 2013 on the Hajj, the annual pilgrimage to Mecca that Muslims are required to take at least once in their lifetime. It was during this trip that he met Malik, a native of Pakistan who came to the United States in July 2014 on a “fiancée visa” and later became a lawful permanent resident.
Saudi and U.S. officials said records show Farook also was in Saudi Arabia in July 2014. He was there for nine days, a Saudi official said. A U.S. official described the 2014 trip as Farook’s “last recorded” trip to the country.
Officials had previously said neither Farook nor Malik were known to the FBI or on a list of potentially radicalized people. Nor had they had any known interactions with police until Wednesday. Yet Farook himself had talked by phone and on social media with more than one person being investigated for terrorism, law enforcement officials said.
The communications were “soft connections” in that they weren’t frequent, one law enforcement official said. It had been a few months since Farook’s last back-and-forth with these people, who officials said were not considered high priority.
San Bernardino Police Chief Jarrod Burguan said whatever led the two to launch Wednesday’s assault, they could have killed more had they survived. He pointed to the discovery of hundreds of rounds of ammunition in their rented black SUV as well as in their apartment.
Authorities also found 12 pipe bombs there, as well as hundreds of tools that “could be used to construct IEDs or pipe bombs,” the chief said.
“If you look at the amount of obvious preplanning that went in, the amount of armaments (they) had, the weapons and the ammunition, there was obviously a mission here,” added Bowdich. “We know that. We do not know why.
“We don’t know if this was the intended target or if there was something that triggered him to do this immediately. We just don’t know.”
Also Thursday, law enforcement officials said two smashed cell phones were recovered from a garbage can near one of the crime scenes connected to the shooting.
And a recovered hard drive shows some signs there was an effort to tamper with it, a law enforcement official said. Other electronics have been recovered and are being examined, according to a second law enforcement official.
But they left behind plenty of ammunition and explosives, including three rudimentary devices packed with black powder and rigged to a remote-controlled toy car at the shooting site. None of these went off. The remote was found inside the SUV along with another pipe-like device, which was not an explosive, Burguan said.
Hundreds of unspent rounds were discovered in the vehicle, plus two .223-caliber rifles and two pistols. All were legally purchased three to four years ago, according to Burguan.
More ammunition and more bombs were found inside the couple’s rented apartment in Redlands. Farook and Malik had enough firepower to do more killing.
“They were equipped,” the San Bernardino police chief said. “… And they could have done another attack.”
Farook traveled to Saudi Arabia at least twice, in 2013 and 2014, acquaintances and Saudi officials told NBC News.
In 2013, he went on Umrah, a pilgrimage to Mecca. Nazeem Ali, 23, who attended Dar-Al-Uloom Al-Islamia mosque in Muscoy, a suburb of San Bernardino, with Farook, said Farook told him that he planned to meet the fiancée he had met online — Malik — and to get married at the Black Stone in the Grand Mosque of Mecca.
Malik, who was of Pakistani background, arrived in the United States on a K-1, or fiancée, visa and attained permanent resident status by virtue of their marriage two years ago.
Mustafa Kuko, director of the Islamic Center of Riverside, another mosque Farook attended for several years, told NBC News that Farook and Malik had their wedding reception at the center in 2013.
Last year, Farook returned to Saudi Arabia, the Saudi Embassy in Washington confirmed Thursday. The embassy said he arrived in the summer and stayed for nine days. It gave no further details.
In May, Farook and Malik had a baby, whom they left with Farook’s mother, claiming they they had a doctor’s appointment, said Farhan Khan, Farook’s brother-in-law. The grandparents first became worried when they got a call from the media about 2 p.m. asking whether they knew that Farook was a suspect, Khan, who is married to Farook’s sister, told NBC News.
“I just cannot express how sad I am for what happened today,” Khan said Wednesday night at a news conference held by the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a Muslim advocacy group. “I am in shock that something like this could happen.”
Khan said he had spoken with Farook a week ago, adding: “Why would he do something like this?”