In the wake of the San Bernardino massacre that left 14 dead and 21 injured, President Obama will address the nation Sunday night from the Oval Office to clarify steps being taken to keep the country safe.
On Saturday, the president used his weekly address to urge Americans to work together to help prevent people from falling into “violent extremist ideologies.”
FBI officials have said Syed Rizwan Farook, 28, and Tashfeen Malik, 27, the married couple that carried out Wednesday’s massacre at San Bernardino’s Inland Regional Center, appeared to have become supporters or advocates of terrorist groups in the Middle East.
“It is entirely possible that these two attackers were radicalized to commit this act of terror,” Obama said Saturday. “And if so, it would underscore a threat we’ve been focused on for years — the danger of people succumbing to violent extremist ideologies.
“We know that ISIL and other terrorist groups are actively encouraging people — around the world and in our country — to commit terrible acts of violence, oftentimes as lone wolf actors. And even as we work to prevent attacks, all of us — government, law enforcement, communities, faith leaders — need to work together to prevent people from falling victim to these hateful ideologies.”
Early Saturday FBI agents with a search warrant raided the Riverside home of Enrique Marquez, a former neighbor of Farook and his family, who reportedly purchased two rifles used during the massacre.
Federal agents entered the Tomlinson Avenue home just after 1 a.m., FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller said. She said agents made a “tactical entry” into the home as they conducted the search.
Eimiller declined to comment on the reason for the raid, but according to multiple media reports, Marquez was not home because he checked himself into a mental health facility shortly after Wednesday’s shootings.
Saturday evening, more than 200 people gathered at Granada Hills Charter High School for an interfaith candlelight vigil to mourn those killed Wednesday. It was co-hosted by the LAPD’s Devonshire Area in Partnership and Muslim Youth Los Angeles.
In Rancho Cucamonga, the Islamic Center of Inland Empire also held an interfaith meeting Saturday night in honor of those killed and injured. Center officials condemned Wednesday’s shooting in a statement on its website, quoting the Quran: “Whoever has killed an innocent person, it is as if he killed all of humanity.”
The victims who died Wednesday have been identified as: Sierra Clayborn of Moreno Valley, 27; Aurora Godoy of San Jacinto, 26; Damian Meins of Riverside, 58; Robert Adams of Yucaipa, 40; Isaac Amanios of Fontana, 60; Bennetta Bet- Badal of Rialto, 46; Harry Bowman of Upland, 46; Juan Espinoza of Highland, 50; Shannon Johnson of Los Angeles, 45; Larry Kaufman of Rialto, 42; Tin Nguyen of Santa Ana, 31; Nicholas Thalasinos of Colton, 52; Yvette Velasco of Fontana, 27; and Michael Wetzel of Lake Arrowhead, 37.
FBI investigators have termed the attack an “act of terrorism” and the agency’s Joint Terrorism Task Force has now taken the lead in the investigation.
Farook and Malik had been married two years and had a 6-month-old daughter. He was a five-year employee of the San Bernardino County public health agency, which was holding a holiday party when the shooting erupted.
An Islamic State online radio broadcast claimed Farook and Malik were supporters of the terrorist group.
“Two followers of Islamic State attacked several days ago a center in San Bernardino,” media reports quoted the ISIS broadcast as saying. ISIS did not directly take credit for the attack, but praised Farook and Malik as “martyrs.”
The couple was killed in a gun battle with police roughly seven hours after the initial shooting at the center, which provides treatment for people with developmental disabilities.
Investigators found evidence they deleted their social media accounts and destroyed their mobile phones the day before the shootings.
But family members, in various interviews and through a family attorney, said they had not seen any evidence the couple had been “radicalized.”
“None of the family members had any idea that this was going to take place,” attorney David Chesley said during a Friday news conference. They were “totally shocked” by what happened. The Los Angeles Times reported that Farook traveled to Saudi Arabia last year and spent nine days there before returning with Malik, whom he met online.
She came to the United States with the U.S.-born Farook in July 2014 on a work visa and had a Pakistani passport. The couple married after arriving in the U.S., which enabled her to gain legal permanent resident status last year.
Just minutes before the Wednesday shootings, Malik pledged allegiance to ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in a statement on Facebook, according to FBI investigators, who are now trying to determine whether Malik radicalized her husband.
The president’s address is scheduled for 5 p.m. Los Angeles time and will be broadcast by most local stations.
Meanwhile, the FBI has established a nationwide toll-free line for tips regarding the massacre. It’s (800) CALL-FBI (Option 4) or (800) 225-5324 Option 4.
— City News Service
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