On Wednesday morning, Syed Rizwan Farook and his wife, Tashfeen Malik, left their 6-month-old daughter with Farook’s mother, telling her they were going out for a doctor’s appointment, a relative said.
By nightfall, it was clear that had been a ruse. The police said the couple had gone on a rampage at a social services center in San Bernardino, killing at least 14 people, before leading officers on a sprawling chase that ended with the two dead in a bloody gunfight in a suburban neighborhood.
As investigators searched for a motive, a picture began to emerge of how the couple had hidden their plan even from close relatives. To some, they appeared steeped in the routines of work and parenthood. They had registered online for gifts for their newborn, including a car seat and diapers.
But in their last moments, with the police in pursuit of the rented sport utility vehicle Farook was driving, Malik aimed and fired a rifle out the back of the car. The couple died in the shootout with police.
Farook and Malik met on a dating website, according to Farook’s brother-in-law, Farhan Khan, who is married to one of Farook’s two sisters.
Malik, 27, was born in Pakistan and had lived with her family in Saudi Arabia, Khan said. Farook, 28, was born in Illinois, and his parents are from Pakistan. The couple had been married for two years. An online baby registry in Malik’s name said her daughter was due May 17 of this year and listed diapers, baby wash, a car seat and safety swabs.
Khan said that Farook had traveled to Saudi Arabia at least twice: first to meet Malik’s family and then to marry her.
While Farook was raised in California, the police said the couple had entered the United States together in July 2014. Malik was traveling with a Pakistani passport and a K-1 visa. The visa, created specifically for fiancés, allows the holder to enter the country and marry a U.S. citizen.
Farook applied for a permanent resident green card for Malik within the legal 90-day limit, a federal official said. In July 2015, she was granted a conditional green card, for which, as a matter of procedure, the couple had to prove that their marriage was legitimate.
After Farook graduated from California State University, San Bernardino in 2010, officials said, he worked for five years as an environmental inspector for the San Bernardino County Public Health Department.
A few years before he married his wife, Farook had profiles on at least two dating websites, where he advertised his family as well-adjusted. “Religious but modern,” he wrote.
Farook and his parents and siblings had lived in a small ranch house since at least the 1990s. The house in Riverside is about 20 miles from the site of the shootings.
As they got into their teens, neighbors said, the brothers occasionally appeared in traditional dress, though never as often as their father.
Korey Roseman, 28, recalled hanging out with Farook as a teenager, often playing basketball in front of the family’s house. He knew him as Rizwan.
“He was pretty cool at the time,” he said. “The rest of his family was a little standoffish for whatever reason.”
Though Roseman knew the family was Muslim, he said Farook had not talked about religion, or prayed openly at school or during lunch.
“He never mentioned his religion,” Roseman said. “I don’t know if they went to mosque. Obviously, I haven’t seen him in 10 years, but at the time, he didn’t seem very religious.”