Presumed terrorist Syed Farook hesitated before opening fire on a crowded room full of his coworkers, according to witnesses.
Survivors told investigators that Tashfeen Malik, 29, shot first when the couple entered the conference room where a holiday party was taking place last Wednesday, according to the Sunday Times of London.
Perhaps Farook briefly lost his nerve when faced with killing his own colleagues, who threw a baby shower for his wife months before, or possibly he was searching for a specific target. These details have emerged as more information develops about Malik’s background and motivation.
The Los Angeles Times painted a portrait of a “modern girl” who became radicalized in her Muslim faith.
“After a couple of years in college, she started becoming religious,” a family member from Malik’s hometown of Karor Lal Esan in Pakistan told the newspaper. “She started taking part in religious activities and also started asking women in the family and the locality to become good Muslims. She started taking part in religious activities of women in the area.”
The family member related how Malik would converse on the Internet at night in Arabic—a language none of her family knows (the family’s native language is Urdu along with a local dialect of Punjabi known as Saraiki).
Hafza Batool, Malik’s aunt on her father’s side, told the BBC that Malik “was so modern. I do not know what had happened to her,” adding, “She brought a bad name to our family.”
Just before committing the mass murders, Malik pledged allegiance to the Islamic State on Facebook.
Farook and Malik married last year in Mecca, Saudi Arabia. Malik had been living in Saudi Arabia with her family since she was a child, but returned to Pakistan to complete her university studies. Farook was an American citizen, born in Chicago, whose parents were Pakistani immigrants. He was raised in southern California and attended Cal State San Bernardino where he received a degree in environmental health. Farook worked in the county health department along with his victims.
At Bahauddin Zakariya University in the city of Multan, Pakistan, a professor who taught Malik expressed surprise that she became a killer. “She was religious, but a very normal person as well,” Dr. Nisar Hussain told The Times. “She was a very hardworking and submissive student. She never created any problem in the class. She was an obedient girl.”
“I cannot even imagine she could murder people,” Hussain said.
After leaving her own 6-month old daughter with her mother-in-law, Malik shot first, and helped murder 14 people: That’s not imagination, it’s a horrific fact.