Developing...

FBI Ends Search Of Lake Near Scene Of San Bernardino Terror Attack

Federal investigators on Monday said they believe the two San Bernardino shooters had been radicalized, but don’t know who may have been behind the drift towards extremism or how it occurred.

Investigators gather around an SUV that was involved in Wednesday’s police shootout with suspects in San Bernardino, Calif. Jae C. Hong / AP

What We Know So Far

  • San Bernardino shooter Tashfeen Malik, 29, posted a Facebook message pledging allegiance to ISIS around the time the massacre began, the FBI said.
  • The agency is now investigating the Wednesday shooting at a social services center — which killed 14 and injured 22 — as an “act of terrorism.” The FBI has also officially taken the role as lead investigators.
  • FBI Director James Comey said there is “indication of radicalization by killers and potential inspiration by foreign terrorist organization” but “no indication these killers are part of an organized larger group or cell.”
  • Malik reportedly removed the message. Facebook identified the account in an investigation and removed it.
  • Police identified the other attacker as Syed Rizwan Farook, 28, Malik’s husband.
  • Farook and Malik were married and had a 6-month-old baby.
  • The shooters entered the center during a holiday function wearing tactical gear and opened fire, before leaving in a black SUV. The shooter later died exchanging gunfire with police.
  • Thousands of rounds of ammunition and 12 pipe-bomb-type devices were recovered from the shooters, their car, and their home in Redlands.

Updates

FBI ends search of lake near shooting scene

Jae C. Hong / AP

The FBI has concluded its search of a lake near the San Bernardino shooting scene, spokeswoman Laura Eimiller told BuzzFeed News on Saturday.

Eimiller confirmed that divers ended the search but did not comment on whether any items that were found are linked to the case.

The FBI previously said Lake Seccombe Park was related to the shooting but did not elaborate.

First funeral for San Bernardino attack victim held as investigation continues

Jae C. Hong / AP

Yvette Velasco was the first of the San Bernardino shooting victims remembered during an outdoor funeral Thursday.

The 27-year-old was one of 14 people killed at the Inland Regional Center when Syed Rizwan Farook and his wife, Tashfeen Malik, opened fire at a holiday party.

Like most of the victims, Velasco was a county employee and Farook’s coworker.

Friends, family, and a several uniformed officers gathered at the service Thursday, where Velasco was remembered as the baby of her family.

“She was more than our sister,” Erica Porteous, her sister said, the Associated Press reported. “She was our soul mate.”

Read more, here.

FBI dive team searches lake near San Bernardino shooting scene

Members of the FBI Underwater Search and Evidence Response Team and bomb specialists work at Seccombe Lake on Thursday. Micah Escamilla/The Sun via AP

A team of FBI divers searched a lake for hours Thursday little more than two miles from where two shooters killed 14 people last week.

David Bowdich, the FBI assistant director in charge, said the search at Lake Seccombe Park was related to the shooting, but declined to specify how.

“We are searching for evidence that has to do with this crime,” Bowdich told reporters at a news conference. “There is no belief there is anything dangerous as a result of this case at this place.”

Federal investigators believe Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik were at the park the day of the shooting, Bowdich said. Agents have already cleared the rest of the park, but the search at the lake could take days.

Law enforcement officials at the scene included members of a bomb squad, as well as an underwater search and evidence response team.

Micah Escamilla / The Sun via AP

Meanwhile, Bowdich said agents are trying to build a timeline of Farook and Malik’s every minute the day of the shooting.

The number of injured people increased to 22 after a woman checked herself into the hospital when she realized she had been injured during the Dec. 2 attack, Bowdich added.

Authorities have already met with some of the families of the people killed and those who were injured.

“They have been through a tremendous amount in the last week,” Bowdich said. “The emotional and physical scars suffered by them will take years to get over and many of them will never get over it.”

Investigators meet with victims and their families

Federal and local investigators met Wednesday with victims of the San Bernardino attack and their families to allow them to ask questions and offer support.

“Today I stood with my local and federal partners, including the U.S. Attorney, in a humbling experience, with the family of victims and victims of this tragic crime,” said Michael Ramos, the San Bernardino district attorney. “We assured them that they would have all the resources needed to get their lives back in order.”

A family assistance center will be open through the end of the week to provide information and resources for victims.

“We understand this is going to be a long healing process,” San Bernardino Police Chief Jarrod Burguan said. “I want to emphasize to the victims that we are here for them and will provide support, as well as the resources available to us.”

FBI Los Angeles Assistant Director David Bowditch said a thorough investigation of the attack is ongoing.

“We owe that to the victims and their loved ones, and they have our full commitment,” he said.

Official: Friend of San Bernardino shooter said the two plotted 2012 attack

Facebook / Via facebook.com

Enrique Marquez, the friend and former neighbor of Syed Rizwan Farook who purchased two assault rifles used in the deadly San Bernardino shooting, plotted a 2012 attack with the shooter, a U.S. official said Wednesday.

“People are still trying to sort out whether it was detailed or whether it was a generality,” Sen. James Risch, a Republican on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, said of the plot on CNN. “It was far enough that apparently he’s admitted that this was a specific plot they were going to carry out.”

Farook and Marquez didn’t go through with the attack at the time after counterterrorism agents made unrelated arrests in the area and the two men “got cold feet,” Risch said.

Marquez has been cooperating with authorities and is not in custody. “I would not expect that lasts very long,” Risch said.

In November 2014, Marquez married Mariya Chernykh, whose sister, Tatiana, is married to Syed Raheel Farook, brother of Syed Rizwan Farook, the New York Times reported.

Marquez converted to Islam about five years ago after attending the Islamic Society of Corona-Norco, the Times said. After his attendance started to wane, Marquez offered little explanation when questioned by Azmi Hasan, the facilities manager at the Islamic Society.

Neighbors told BuzzFeed News that Marquez and Farook grew up next door to each other in Riverside, California, their homes separated by a low brick wall. Both enjoyed taking cars apart and fixing them.

Shortly after the shooting, officials said Marquez checked himself into a mental institute. Days later federal investigators conducted a raid at his home, tearing apart his garage door with blowtorches and questioning family members for hours.

A neighbor said Farook and Marquez appeared to have a falling out in 2012, noting the pair would ignore each other despite being feet apart.

Malik’s father openly condemns her actions to the media

Gulzar Ahmad Malik, father of shooter suspect Tashfeen Malik, told the Associated Press that he regretted his daughter’s actions and was “very, very sad.”

He added that he had recorded his statement with Saudi intelligence.

Malik’s father had been a resident of the Saudi kingdom since the 1980s, according to the AP.

“I am in such pain that I cannot even describe it,” he said.

FBI director: suspects “were radicalized before they started courting”

CSPAN / Via c-span.org

FBI Director James Comey testified before Congress Wednesday during an oversight committee hearing to deliver a new update to his team’s investigation on the mass-shooting in San Bernardino.

“Our investigation to date shows that [shooters Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik] were radicalized before they started courting or dating each other online,” Comey said. “As early as the end of 2013 [they] were talking to each other about jihad and martyrdom before they became engaged and married and were living in the U.S.”

Comey also fielded questions from senators that ranged from encrypted communications the pair used to the media storming on Friday of the suspects’ home.

Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley asked Comey about the bureau’s communication with major tech industries regarding how to deal with encrypted messages in light of the slew of terrorist attacks.

Grassley to ask FBI Director Comey about the "going dark" problem of encrypted comms, wants to hear about FBI convos with Tech indusry execs

— Hamza Shaban (@hshaban)

FBI Director Comey: Encryption is not a technical issue but a ? of business models. Encryption is getting in the way of safety on the net

— Hamza Shaban (@hshaban)

Comey provided examples of past incidents in which coded messages were used between individuals plotting terrorists attacks; One was a thwarted attempted in Garland, Texas, where the attacker had sent 109 encrypted messages.

The FBI director argued that example showed the importance of tech companies working with federal authorities to work out a system to provide access to encrypted messages.

South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham sought from Comey more information about whether or not the marriage of the two suspects was arranged by ISIS.

Comey said he did not yet know the answer, but acknowledged that if it was, it would be a “game changer.”

Dianne Feinstein, California senator, asked Comey to once again explain the process by which dozen of members of the media stormed into the suspects’ apartment on Friday.

Once again, Comey said that investigators had finished a 24-hour examination of the home, took with them all the necessary evidence, and boarded up the premises.

“The part I can’t explain is why the landlord of the place pried the boards off to let folks through,” he said.

First responders describe first minutes of San Bernardino shooting

San Bernardino County Sheriff’s detective Jorge Lozano. Jae C. Hong / AP

Officers, firefighters and dispatchers described the scene they encountered when they responded to the San Bernardino shooting last week, and realized the scenario they trained for but never expected to experience had arrived.

“I would be lying if I was saying it wasn’t difficult walking up to those doors - You know, we didn’t have any cover,” San Bernardino Lt. Mike Madden said during a press conference Tuesday.

He was one of the first officers to arrive at the Inland Regional Center where Syed Rizwan Farook and his wife Tashfeen Malik opened fire.

Other officers described hearing the radio call and responding to the scene, partly expecting it to be a training exercise.

Cpl. Scott Snyder of the Fontana Police Department said he and his partner searched for signs in the radio traffic the shooting was a training exercise, then realized it was no drill.

“My body went numb,” he said. “When we entered, we came and saw the victims down on the ground.”

Read more, here.

San Bernardino shooters received $28,500 loan weeks before attack

Weapons and other evidence are shown on a tarp near a SUV involved in the Dec. 2 attack in San Bernardino, California. Mario Anzuoni / Reuters

Weeks before San Bernardino shooters Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik fatally shot 14 people and wounded 21 others they received a $28,500 cash loan from an online lender that investigators believe may have been used to fund their attack.

Federal officials told the Los Angeles Times authorities suspect the loan was used by Farook and Malik to “acquire rifles from a friend, thousands of rounds of ammunition and parts for pipe bomb explosives.”

Fox News was the first to report that a $28,500 deposit was made to Syed Farook’s bank account in mid-November.

Reuters reported that San Francisco-based online lender Prosper made the $28,500 loan to Farook in November. Prosper evaluates borrowers for loans, the outlet reported, which are originated by third-party bank WebBank. Prosper then sells the loans to investors.

In a statement to BuzzFeed News, Prosper said it is prohibited by law from disclosing information about loans made through its platform.

“All loans originated through the Prosper platform are subject to all identity verification and screening procedures required by law, including US anti-terrorism and anti-money laundering laws,” a spokesperson said Tuesday. “As part of our standard procedures, we also confirm that all loan funds are disbursed into a verified US bank account in the borrower’s name. Like all Americans, Prosper is shocked and saddened by recent events in San Bernardino.”

WebBank did not immediately return calls for comment.

Attorney disputes statements that San Bernardino shooter shared ideology with ISIS leader

Attorneys David Chesley, left, and Mohammad Abuershaid. Mark J. Terrill / AP

An attorney for the father of one of the San Bernardino shooters, Syed Rizwan Farook, said he doesn’t recall making statements to an Italian newspaper about his son’s obsession with Israel and shared ideology with ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

Attorney David Chesley told CNN on Monday that the family has been contesting Syed Farook’s comments to the newspaper La Stampa.

“It’s really troubling, he’s on about four to five different medication and said he never recalled making those statements,” Chesley said. “I spoke with him personally yesterday and he said he didn’t recall saying anything.”

During the interview, Chesley described Farook’s family as normal, nothing out of the ordinary.

“They enjoy living the American dream,” Chesley said.

He added that he was concerned about Donald Trump’s call for an immigration ban for Muslims to the U.S.

“There’s a danger to anything like this, that people could start deteriorating our rights to freedom of religion,” Chesley said. “Why should all members of the religion of Islam be castigated by some insane act by a lone individual?”

San Bernardino shooters practiced at gun range days before attack

San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department

Just days before last week’s terrorist attack in San Bernardino, both shooters spent time practicing at target ranges in the Los Angeles area, David Bowdich, the FBI assistant director in charge, said Monday.

An instructor at a nearby gun range told BuzzFeed News that Syed Rizwan Farook practiced at Riverside Magnum Range before the shooting that left 14 dead and 21 others injured.

“Farook was here at the range, but I can’t give any more details,” John Galletta said.

The range turned over video of Farook practicing to the FBI, Galletta said, but declined to say whether Farook’s wife, Tashfeen Malik, had also practiced at the range.

A person closely tied to the range told NBC News that Farook practiced on Sunday and for two to three hours last Monday with numerous weapons, including an assault rifle similar to the one used in the attack.

An Iranian doctor followed the SWAT team into the San Bernardino shooting to save lives

Via abc7.com

Dr. Michael Neeki, a trauma doctor at Arrowhead Regional Medical Center, was the first doctor to arrive at the scene of the Inland Regional Center shooting as part of the San Bernardino SWAT team.

The situation was still active, but Neeki showed courage even in the face of danger.

“They will take a bullet for me and I will take a bullet for them,” Neeki said in a press conference on Monday. “I’m honored to be a physician working in this county.”

FBI: San Bernardino shooters has been radicalized for “quite some time”

FBI and California Department of Motor Vehicles

Federal investigators on Monday said they believe the two San Bernardino shooters had been radicalized for “quite some time,” but don’t know who may have been behind the drift towards extremism or how it occurred.

“We don’t know those answers right now. We are working with our foreign counterparts to determine what we can,” said David Bowdich, assistant director in charge of the FBI’s L.A. office. “We will leave no stone unturned.”

Bowdich said Tashfeen Malik and Syed Rizwan Farook had planned the attack for some time. Both had been practicing at target ranges in the Los Angeles area as recently as a few days before last week’s shooting, he said.

At the time of the shooting the FBI didn’t have an open investigation into Farook, the bureau official said. Agents also found 19 pipes that could’ve been turned into bombs inside the couples Redlands, California home.

John D’Angelo, spokesperson for the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, said the five guns used in the attack were purchased legally in California between 2007 and 2012.

All of the guns were purchased before Farook went to Saudi Arabia to marry Malik in 2014.

Farook had purchased two handguns — a Llama 9 mm and a Springfield Armory 9 mm — as well as a .22-caliber rifle. A friend, Enrique Marquez, purchased two assault rifles used in the shootings.

D’Angelo said investigators don’t know how the assault rifles got from Marquez to Farook and Malik. The FBI served a search warrant at Marquez’s Riverside, California home on Saturday morning.

All of the guns were

Photograph appears to show San Bernardino shooters entering the U.S. together

A picture shared with BuzzFeed News by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection appears to show Tashfeen Malik and Syed Farook entering Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport on July 27, 2014.

Federal investigators have said Farook traveled to Saudi Arabia in July 2014 and brought Malik back to his hometown of Chicago. She was in the U.S. on a so-called “fiancée” visa.

Malik is captured in the image dressed in a black hijab as Farook walks behind her.

San Bernardino County reopened its offices on Monday with increased security

Board of Supervisors Chairman James Ramos.

San Bernardino County offices reopened for the first day on Monday since the Dec. 2 attacks.

The county’s Environmental Health Services remains closed. Authorities will reconsider opening the department next week.

Board of Supervisors Chairman James Ramos said in a press conference on Monday that officials instituted increased security measures at county buildings, including armed guards who are permitted to engage with people who pose a threat.

The county has also launched several trauma teams of psychologists and social workers to respond to the grieving families of victims.


This is a developing story. Check back for updates and follow @BuzzFeedNews on Twitter.

BuzzFeed News staff writers Tom Namako, David Mack, and Tasneem Nashrulla contributed reporting from New York; Claudia Koerner, Jon Passantino, Sal Hernandez, and Jason Wells from Los Angeles; and Sheera Frenkel from San Francisco.

Check out more articles on BuzzFeed.com!