California

San Bernardino attacker was ‘typical housewife,’ lawyer says

David Chesley and Mohammad Abuershaid, lawyers for the Farook family, discuss the Facebook post by Tashfeen Malik, one of two San Bernardino shooters.

Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik kept a quiet, conservative home in Redlands with their daughter -- where the wife stayed at home caring for their baby while Farook went to work for the San Bernardino County health department.

As far as Farook’s family was concerned, there was nothing out of the ordinary with the couple – which is what they told the FBI during a four-hour interview Thursday, a day after the pair died in a gun battle with police in San Bernardino.

The pair had only hours earlier killed 14 people and wounded 21 others at a holiday party at a county facility. At a news conference Friday afternoon, attorneys for Farook’s family expressed sorrow for the victims and provided details on the family’s home life leading up to the killings.

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They also said neither they nor authorities have been able to find a motive for the shooting or links to organized terrorist groups.

“None of the family members had any idea that this was going to take place,” said attorney David Chesley. “They were totally shocked.”

A second attorney, Mohammad Abuershaid, described Farook and Malik’s home life as a “traditional” Muslim household.

“The women would sit with the women, men with the men. Men did not interact with her,” Abuershaid said. “Brothers have never seen her face. She was totally covered. They just knew her as ‘Syed’s wife.’ ”

Malik was a “typical housewife” taking care of the couple’s 6-month old daughter while Farook worked, Chesley said. She spoke broken English and fluent Urdu, he said.

“She did maintain certain traditions. Fasting and prayer. She chose not to drive voluntarily. But these are all benign;, these are things that many Muslims do and it doesn’t mean anything necessarily,” Chesley said.

Relatives knew they kept two guns locked up in the home.

At times when Malik would be caring for the baby, the attorneys said that Farook would be in the home’s garage tinkering with things.

He liked working on his car, the attorney said. Relatives went into the garage occasionally to see what he was working on. Farook once made a shoe rack for his sister.

But Farook did have to make some adjustments to work, the attorneys said. Because of his job, Farook had to trim his beard. Sometimes co-workers teased him about his facial hair, but he “shrugged it off.”

“He was a very isolated, introverted individual with really no friends that we could I identify,” Chesley said.

The couple reportedly dropped their baby off at a relative’s home prior to the shooting. The infant is now with child protective services and may be turned over to Farook’s oldest sister by Monday, the attorneys said.

In a separate news conference Friday, the FBI said it has not found any definitive ties to terrorist organizations or any indication the two were part of a terrorist cell. Authorities said they were aware of a Facebook post that may be linked to Malik that reportedly pledges allegiance to the Islamic State.

“That’s hardly anything at all,” Chesley said.

“If there is anything remarkable about the investigation that took place [Thursday], it is that no ties could really be established to the point of frustration on the part of the FBI,” Chesley said.

For breaking California news, follow @JosephSerna.

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