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Law Enforcement: San Bernardino Attackers Heavily Armed With Potential For More Violence

It's still not clear whether the San Bernardino attacks were terrorism, but the shooters were capable of more violence.

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Authorities still won’t name a motive for the San Bernardino massacre that left 14 dead and 21 wounded. But it’s clear the shooters, Syed Rizwan Farook, 28, a U.S. citizen and former county health worker, and Tashfeen Malik, 27, his Pakistani-born wife, were capable of inflicting a lot more carnage.

At a Thursday press conference in San Bernardino, FBI Assistant Director David Bowdich, head of the bureau’s Los Angeles office, stopped short of ruling out terrorism as a motive for the Wednesday attack but said it was “too early to speculate to why this occurred.”  

“There was obviously a mission here,” Bowdich said. “We don’t know why.”

Earlier Thursday, President Barack Obama said “it is possible this was terrorist-related, but we don’t know.” Obama also said the FBI is taking the lead in the investigation.

However, “it is also possible this was workplace related,” Obama said in Washington, calling it a “terrible event.”

Farook worked for the San Bernardino County Department of Public Health as an inspector; the shootings took place during an office holiday party at a service center for people with mental disabilities.

Officials said Farook and Malik were armed to the teeth, and that additional attacks were possible had they not been shot to death by law enforcement in their getaway SUV.

“There appears to be a degree of planning that goes into this,” San Bernardino Police Chief Jarrod Burguan said. Bowdich added, “There was obviously a mission here.”

Police found an estimated 1,400 rounds of .223 caliber ammunition and more than 200 9-mm rounds in the bullet-riddled SUV, Burguan said. At Farook and Malik’s home in Redlands, Calif., police found more than 4,500 rounds of ammunition, 12 pipe bomb-type devices, plus tools that could be used to make explosives.

Bowdich said Farook and Malik entered the United States from Pakistan in July 2014. Neither attacker was on law enforcement’s radar, Burguan said.

Photo Credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

David Francis was a senior reporter for Foreign Policy, where he covered international finance. @davidcfrancis

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