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San Bernardino Authorities Identify Suspects In Shooting That Killed 14


Last night, there was a small gathering of pastors from a few churches around San Bernardino, Calif. They lit 14 candles, one for each victim of yesterday's mass shooting at the Inland Regional Center. People prayed for the families of the victims and also prayed for unity.


UNIDENTIFIED PASTOR: Our father, who art in heaven...

UNIDENTIFIED PASTORS: (In unison) Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day...

INSKEEP: The Lord's Prayer yesterday in San Bernardino, Calif. We're going to be updating you on this story throughout the morning. And let's go now to NPR's Shereen Marisol Meraji. She is in San Bernardino. Shereen, good morning.


INSKEEP: Let's start with the victims and the suspects. What's the latest that you know?

MERAJI: So we don't know anything yet about who these victims are. We know 14 people are confirmed dead. Seventeen are wounded. But what we do know is that there were two shooters. There was initially information that there may have been three. But the San Bernardino Police Department say they feel really confident that there were only two.

INSKEEP: Who were they?

MERAJI: Well, first of all, they're dead. They died after a shootout with at least 20 officers after a car chase. They were 28-year-old Syed Rizwan Farook - he was born in the U.S. - and a 27-year-old woman named Tashfeen Malik. It's unconfirmed if they were boyfriend and girlfriend, engaged or married at this point. But police say they were definitely in a relationship. And we know that Farook worked for the county for five years as an environmental health specialist. Yesterday before the shooting, he was at what has been described as a holiday party at the Inland Regional Center. It's a party he's attended before. But at this party, he got mad about something, left only to return heavily armed with Malik. San Bernardino Police Chief Jarrod Burguan says based on how they were equipped, it looks like the attack was planned.


JARROD BURGUAN: I don't think they just ran home, put on these types of tactical clothes, grabbed guns and came back on a spur-of-the-moment thing.

MERAJI: And, Steve, he went on to say that there's no motive yet.

INSKEEP: People are going to be listening to this and trying to categorize this shooting, asking, is it terrorism? Is it a workplace shooting? What indications, if any, have the police given?

MERAJI: They are not ruling out terrorism. And the FBI is here investigating. And what we've heard over and over again is that is a possibility. And it's not going to be ruled out.

INSKEEP: We're listening to NPR's Shereen Marisol Meraji. She is in San Bernardino, Calif. And, Shereen, what are you hearing as you move about that town?

MERAJI: So when I first got here, I stumbled upon a family asking reporters - any reporters - for information about the workers in the Inland Regional Center. Gabrielle Espinoza was holding her 6-year-old nephew's hand while her mom was desperately just trying to call people to get information. She was on her cell phone.

GABRIELLE ESPINOZA: She just wants to make sure the workers are fine because they're like family to her. She's been coming here for 20 years.

MERAJI: What do the workers do to help her kids?

ESPINOZA: Well, he's autistic. And my sister is mentally ill. So they help with all that.

INSKEEP: What about people who are connected with individuals who were in that holiday party?

MERAJI: So families were told to go to the Hernandez Community Center, which is about two miles away from where the attack happened. People were there to meet up with loved ones who survived the ordeal. And others were left waiting into the evening, hoping to hear something - anything - about the loved ones that they couldn't reach. I wasn't allowed into that center. But I spoke with two pastors who had been counseling people inside. One, named Wiley Drake, from a Southern Baptist church about 50 miles away, he was pretty angry.

WILEY DRAKE: If we'd had some people armed there, they could have stopped them. You don't get rid of the guns to get rid of the bad guys. You get rid of the bad guys by using your gun.

MERAJI: Another pastor was outside of the center. His name is Michael Taylor. He's from Kingdom Worship Center, right across the street. And he just urged people to pray.

MICHAEL TAYLOR: You've just got to encourage the people at this time in the community and let them know that we shall overcome this. Good shall overcome evil. Evil will never prevail.

INSKEEP: Shereen, thanks very much.

MERAJI: Thank you, Steve.

INSKEEP: That's NPR's Shereen Marisol Meraji in San Bernardino, Calif. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Shereen Marisol Meraji is the co-host and senior producer of NPR's Code Switch podcast. She didn't grow up listening to public radio in the back seat of her parent's car. She grew up in a Puerto Rican and Iranian home where no one spoke in hushed tones, and where the rhythms and cadences of life inspired her story pitches and storytelling style. She's an award-winning journalist and founding member of the pre-eminent podcast about race and identity in America, NPR's Code Switch. When she's not telling stories that help us better understand the people we share this planet with, she's dancing salsa, baking brownies or kicking around a soccer ball.

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