Syed Farook and Tashfeen Malik fired at least 65 bullets when they stormed an office holiday party in San Bernardino on Wednesday, killing 14 people and injuring 21 others.
Hours later, Farook and Malik exchanged hundreds of rounds with police officers in a firefight on San Bernardino’s streets, launching bullets into homes and terrifying residents who had already been rocked by the mass shooting earlier in the day.
While the number of bullets fired might seem overwhelming, San Bernardino police Chief Jarrod Burguan said Thursday that the suspects, who died in the gun battle with officers, could have delivered far more harm if given the chance.
Police discovered a veritable armory when they searched Farook and Malik’s Redlands home, recovering a dozen pipe bombs, 2,000 9-millimeter handgun rounds, 2,500 .223-caliber assault rifle rounds and “hundreds of tools” that could have been used to make additional explosive devices, Burguan said.
“Certainly they were equipped and they could have continued to do another attack … we intercepted them,” he said.
Farook and Malik used two assault rifles and two semi-automatic handguns in the attack on the party, all of which were purchased legally, according to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. A federal law enforcement source told the Los Angeles Times that the guns were bought at Annie’s Get Your Gun, a firearms retailer in nearby Corona that advertises itself as a “family-friendly gun store.”
An employee who answered the phone at the store on Thursday morning declined to comment.
As authorities continued to probe the backgrounds of the husband and wife responsible for America’s deadliest mass shooting since 2012, investigators and legislators from California to Washington, D.C., tried to understand what motivated the shooters.
Speaking at the White House on Thursday morning, President Obama said the FBI was now leading the probe into the attack at the Inland Regional Center. Investigators have yet to rule out terrorism as a motive, but police have also said that Farook was involved in a dispute at the party for employees of the San Bernardino County Health Department shortly before gunfire broke out.
“We do know that the two individuals who were killed were equipped with weapons and appeared to have access to additional weaponry at their homes,” Obama said. “But we don’t know why they did it. We don’t know at this point the extent of their plans. We do not know their motivations.”
During a news conference Thursday, Burguan said the suspects had 1,400 assault rifle rounds and 200 handgun rounds in their car as they fled from police. The couple fired 76 rounds at officers during the shootout, and officers shot 380 rounds in return. Burguan said he believed the suspects shot first.
Despite uncertainty about the motive for the attack, Burguan said the cache of weapons and ammunition found at the couple’s home obviously suggests it was preplanned.
Farook and Malik were the lone suspects in the shooting, officials said. Farook was born in Illinois, but recently traveled to Saudi Arabia and returned with a woman he met online. He had worked at the health department as an inspector for five years.
Malik was born in Pakistan, according to a federal law enforcement source who requested anonymity. She was in the country legally on a visa, according to Burguan.