President Obama in a quick press conference from the White House on Thursday morning offered prayers and expressions of compassion for the victims of San Bernardino’s killings, before moving right into his typical post-shooting messaging for more gun control.
He also said the attack that left 14 dead and 17 injured that came at the hands of two Muslims, Syed Rizwan Farook, 28, and his wife, Tashfeen Malik, 27, was not necessarily rooted in terrorism.
“At this stage, we do not know why this terrible event occurred,” Obama said. “We do know the two individuals who were killed were equipped with weapons and appeared to have access to additional weaponry in their homes. But we don’t know why they did it. We do not know the extent of their plans. We do not know their motivations.”
He said the FBI just briefed him on the matter, and has taken control of the investigation from local law enforcement.
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“It is possible this was terrorist related, but we don’t know,” Obama said. “It is also possible this is workplace related.”
Some of the signs of terrorism intelligence and law enforcement officials have noted, however, include the fact the couple carried Go-Pro cameras, as if they intended to film the shootings and post the scene to YouTube or some other social media venue; the shooters had a well–planned strategy that included body armor, assault weapons and bombs; Farook had recently returned from a trip to Saudi Arabia, and brought his wife back to America; Malik was reportedly born in Pakistan; both shooters were Muslims; and neighbors working in the area of the home of Farook’s relative, which police stormed and searched, said they noticed groups of Middle Eastern men walking to and fro from the residence in recent weeks, as reported by WND.
Fox News also reported the home of Farook’s mother or grandmother in Redlands – there have been different reports about the homeowner’s identity – was filled with explosive and robotic devices, some of which are considered normal tools of al-Qaida.
Obama, at his media briefing, pressed for Americans to withhold judgment on the motives until all the intelligence and evidence was collected and analyzed.
“[Wait] for the FBI determination … [on] the nature of workplace relation” between Farook, a San Bernardino County employee, and his “superiors,” and for “all [the] social media and electronic information [has been] exploited,” Obama said.
Until that process is complete, “we’re just not going to be able to answer those [motivation] questions,” he said.
Obama then turned attention to what he saw as a crucial key in keeping such shootings from occurring again: gun control.
“We can’t just leave it to the professionals [law enforcement and military] to deal with these killings,” he said. “It’s going to be important for all of us, including our legislators, to see what we can do. Right now, it’s just too easy [to accomplish these shootings].”
He then appeals to the moral compass of Americans.
Obama wrapped: “We’re going to have to search ourselves as a society to make sure we can take the basic steps to make it harder – not impossible, but harder – for individuals to get access to weapons.”
Obama also ordered flags on federal properties to be flown at half-mast.