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From ‘living the American dream’ to suspects: Here’s what we know

Updated

How did a young couple go from appearing to be “living the American dream” to allegedly shooting up a social services center in San Bernardino, California? That’s the question authorities are working to answer after the pair killed 14 people and injured 21 others at an office holiday party, according to police.

Here’s what we know – and don’t know – about the suspects, Syed Rizwan Farook, 28, and his wife, Tashfeen Malik, 27, who died in a shootout with police hours after carrying out the massacre.

  • The couple left their six-month-old infant with Farook’s grandmother, saying they had a doctor’s appointment the morning of the shooting. Farook’s sister and her husband, Farhan Khan, have begun legal proceedings to adopt the couple’s orphaned infant.
  • They attempted to modify one semi-automatic weapon to be fully-automatic, which would have allowed the gun to shoot multiple bullets with just one pull of the trigger, but the effort failed, a senior law enforcement source told NBC News

RELATED: San Bernardino shooter was ‘bad person,’ not radical: Brother-in-law

Syed Rizwan Farook

  • Khan said Farook wasn’t political and gave no indication of radicalization. He was “a good religious person … just like normal anybody would be,” he told NBC Nightly News anchor Lester Holt. Khan insisted his brother-in-law “was not radical.”
  • Members of the two mosques Farook attended described him as as a mild-mannered and devout Muslim who came to prayers on his lunch break, telling NBC News that if he was radicalized, it wasn’t at those mosques.
  • “We never saw him raise his voice. We never saw him curse at anyone, disrespect anyone. He was always a very nice guy, always very simple, very straightforward … he had a lot of manners,” Nzeem Ali, 23, told NBC News at Al Islamiyah in San Bernardino.
  • Mustafa Kuko, the director of another mosque Farook attended, described him to NBC News as “very mild, very calm, very peaceful, very nice, very decent.”
  • To their family, the couple appeared to be very normal: “Couches, TV, kitchen. I mean, you know, a play area, a treadmill to run,” Khan said in the interview. “He liked to work on cars. I mean, that was his hobby, to go buy a used car, work on it. He loved buying used Mustangs, fix it, and then sell it.”
  • Coworker Patrick Baccari shared a cubicle with the suspected shooter and told the Los Angeles Times that Farook appeared to be “living the American dream.”
  • Farook was born in Chicago, according to public records; he worked for the last five years as an environmental health specialist, police said.
  • He appears to have a number of dating profiles, where he sought out women. “I try to live as a good Muslim, looking for a girl who has the same outlook, wear hijab, but live the life to the fullest,” a user who appears to be Farook wrote on Arab Lounge, adding that he likes barbecues, children and snowboarding. 

Tashfeen Malik

  • Malik pledged allegiance to ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi just before the deadly attack, law enforcement sources told NBC News.
  • She was a Pakistani national, authorities have confirmed, but was living in Saudi Arabia until she married Farook. She entered the country on a fiancé K-1 Visa.
  • We don’t know what she looks like: No photo has been released to the public.  
  • Pakistani authorities are working with American officials to uncover any details about the suspected female accomplice in the shooting, but an official told NBC News that until they had “a picture, or an ID card number, or a passport number, we can’t follow any leads.”
  • She appears to have set up a baby registry on Target.com, requesting diapers and a handful of household products.

Massacre in San Bernardino, California: A dramatic day unfolds
Gunmen opened fire at the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino, California, Wednesday, killing at least 14 people and injuring at least 14 more.

San Bernardino shooting

From 'living the American dream' to suspects: Here's what we know

Updated