Couple stockpiled ammunition, explosives before deadly San Bernardino rampage, chief says

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SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. – The couple that carried out a deadly shooting rampage in San Bernardino had stockpiled thousands of rounds of ammunition and more than a dozen explosive devices before the attack, investigators said Thursday.

The San Bernardino shooters fired 65 to 75 rounds at a holiday party at the Inland Regional Center Wednesday, and later in the day fired about 76 more rounds at police during a pursuit, San Bernardino Police Chief Jarrod Burguan said Thursday.

When they were killed by police, the San Bernardino shooters had on their person or in their vehicle more than 1,400 rounds of .223 caliber ammunition and more than 200 9-mm rounds, San Bernardino Police Chief Jarrod Burguan said. In their home and garage in Redlands, police found more than 4,500 rounds of ammunition, 12 pipe bomb-type devices, plus hundreds of tools, many of which could be used to construct improvised explosive devices, or pipe bombs, he said.

“We still don’t have the motive” in the San Bernardino shooting, Police Chief Jarrod Burguan said. He reiterated that witnesses indicate that Syed Rizwan Farook was at the party when it began, but added, “There appears to be a degree of planning that went into this.”

Burguan said that 14 people were killed in the shooting and 21 people were injured. Wednesday night authorities said that 17 people had been injured, but they warned that the casualty numbers were preliminary and could change.

The majority of the 14 people killed in the San Bernardino shootings have been identified, and a number of family notifications have been made, San Bernardino County Sheriff John McMahon said. The names of the victims have not been released to the public.

Burguan praised officers from seven local, state and federal agencies involved in the afternoon shootout that killed Farook and his wife,  Tashfeen Malik. He said the 23 officers involved in the fire fight shot more than 300 rounds at the suspects.  Farook’s wife appears to have fired the first shots out the back of the rented Ford Explorer as her husband drove, he said. Farook stopped the SUV and  began firing as he got out of the vehicle, Burguan said.

Farook  was apparently radicalized and in touch with people being investigated by the FBI for international terrorism, law enforcement officials told CNN Thursday.

Farook’s apparent radicalization contributed to his role in the mass shooting, with his wife Tashfeen Malik, of 14 people Wednesday during a holiday party for the San Bernardino County health department, where Farook worked, sources said.

Still, it wasn’t necessarily the only driver behind the carnage, as workplace grievances may have also played a role. President Barack Obama hinted as much Thursday when he said that the attackers may have had “mixed motives.”

Farook traveled 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, which didn’t raise red flags, said two government officials. It was during this trip that he met Malik, a native of Pakistan who came to the United States on a “fiancée visa” and later became a lawful permanent resident.

Officials had previously said that neither Farook and 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’s deadly shootout that culminated in their deaths.

Yet Farook himself had communicated by phone and via social media with more than one person being investigated for terrorism, law enforcement officials said. A separate U.S. government official said the 28-year-old has “overseas communications and associations.”

Asked whether the San Bernardino shooters — given the amount of ammunition and bombs they had — may have been planning something different but instead did Wednesday’s shooting impulsively, the FBI’s David Bowdich answered: “If you look at the amount of obvious pre-planning that went in, the amount of armaments (they) had, the weapons and the ammunition, there was obviously a mission here. 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. Again, that’s going to take time for us to get to that answer.” Bowdich is the assistant director for the FBI’s Los Angeles field office.

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