Attorneys for the family of San Bernardino shooter Syed Rizwan Farook said they were horrified by the man’s actions and that they had no idea he planned to massacre co-workers at the Inland Regional Center .
“They were totally shocked that this could take place,” said criminal defense attorney David Chesley at a California news Conference Friday. “None of the family knew of him as being extreme.”
Despite reports Friday that Farook’s wife, 27-year-old Tashfeen Malik had pledged allegiance to ISIS under an assumed name on Facebook, Chesley said he has seen no evidence to support that claim.
“The most evidence they have so far is that somebody looked at something on Facebook,” the lawyer said. That does not mean the couple was linked to ISIS, Chesley said. “I looked at Britney Spears on Facebook and I hate Britney Spears,” he said.
Chesley and Mahammad Abuershaid are representing the Farook family to protect the legal rights of its members as they are questioned by FBI agents, the lawyers said.
The attorneys recently sat with family members during a four-hour interview with federal agents, Chesley said. The FBI appeared to be stumped about what caused the couple to open fire, he said.
“None of the family members had any knowledge that this was going to take place,” Abuershaid said.
The relatives said Malik was soft-spoken and wore a burqa. She was a stay-at-home mom who rarely left the house, Chesley said. She and Farook met in Saudi Arabia through a dating service and were married in 2014.
They came to the U.S. that same year. Six months ago they had a daughter.
The lawyers said their clients have been threatened since Wednesday’s killing of 14 people at Farook’s work place. The husband and wife died in a shootout with cops about a mile from the site.
The attorneys urged caution in calling the violence an act of Islamic terror, saying the Muslim world is appalled by the mass shooting.
“We’re here to protect our clients who happen to be Muslim,” Chesley said. “When someone goes crazy and commits an act like that, it can totally be workplace-driven.”
Farook had been teased by co-workers about his beard, Chesley said.
“We sat there for four hours with family members (and the FBI),” he said. “No one could establish any links to odd or strange behavior. Nothing was there … There was no evidence of anything. I don’t feel like we should be overzealous about the incidents until we have firm evidence,” he said.