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Two Suspects in California Shooting Dead

Officials in the city of San Bernardino, in Southern California, have confirmed the names of the two people believed to have shot and killed 14 people and injured 17 at a state government agency Wednesday.

Police Chief Jarrod Burguan said they were 28-year-old Syed Farook and 27-year-old Tashfeen Malik. Burguan said the two were either married or engaged. The Associated Press and the Los Angeles Times newspaper report the two were married and were parents of a baby.

After the shooting, Farook and Malik were found by police at a home in a town near the shooting. The two fled in a car and were chased by police, who shot and killed them during a gun battle. One police officer was wounded.

Burguan said Farook was an employee of the San Bernardino County health department. The city is about an hour east of Los Angeles. The agency was holding a Christmas party at the offices of an organization that trains mentally disabled people. Reports say Farook angrily left the party and returned with Malik. The two carried assault rifles and semi-automatic handguns.

A third person was arrested while trying to flee the shooting. Chief Burguan said it was not clear what the man was doing there. He said he is not sure if the man helped the attackers or was trying to find a safe place away from the shooting.

Burguan said it was clear that the two shooters had planned the attack. He said they entered the agency to kill. He said he did not know why the attack took place. But he said a workplace dispute may have been the cause. He called the shooting “domestic terrorism.” He said three explosive devices were found in the building and disarmed. He said a robot was searching the couples’ home for possible explosives.

Burguan did not say if the dead and wounded worked at the center, were people who were being trained there or worked at the same agency as Farook.

An FBI official at the shooting scene said he was not immediately willing to describe the shooting as linked to international terrorism. But he said the investigation has found possible links to other countries. He said officials will follow the information wherever it leads.

Hours after the shooting, one of Farook’s family members spoke to reporters at a press conference organized by the Los Angeles office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. Farhan Kahn said he did not know why Farook had carried out the attack.

The council’s executive director -- Hussam Ayloush -- told reporters “we unequivocally condemn the horrific act that happened today. We stand in solidarity in repudiating any possible ideology or mindset that could have led to such (a) horrific [attack]."

Patrick Baccari worked with Farook. He said Farook traveled to Saudi Arabia earlier this year and returned to the United States with a wife. But he did not say if Farook’s wife was Malik.

The attack on Wednesday was the worst mass shooting in the United States since 2012 -- when 20 children and six teachers were shot and killed at an elementary school in the northeastern state of Connecticut.

President Barack Obama was being interviewed by CBS television when the shooting in San Bernardino was first reported. He said the United States has a pattern of mass shootings that no other country has. He noted steps that can be taken to make Americans safer. He said officials from all political parties in every level of government should work to find ways to make mass shootings rare.

Less than a week ago, three people were killed and nine were wounded in a shooting at a women’s health clinic in Colorado Springs, Colorado. In October, a gunman killed nine people at a college in Oregon. And in June a white gunman killed nine black people at a church in South Carolina.

I’m Christopher Jones-Cruise.

VOA Central News Writer Richard Green reported this story from Washington. Christopher Jones-Cruise adapted it for VOA Learning English. Kathleen Struck was the editor.

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Words in This Story

engaged adj. promised to be married

assault rifle – n. a gun that can shoot many bullets quickly and that is designed for use by the military

semi-automatic handgun – n. a small gun (such as a revolver or a pistol) designed to be held and shot with one hand, and able to fire bullets one after the other quickly but not automatically

workplace – n. the office, factory, etc., where people work

domestic – adj. of, relating to, or made in your own country

device – n. a weapon that explodes

scene – n. the place of an event or action

unequivocally – adv. very strong and clear; not showing or allowing any doubt; not equivocal

horrific – adj. causing horror or shock

repudiate – v. to refuse to accept or support (something); to reject (something or someone)

ideology – n. the set of ideas and beliefs of a person, group or political party

mind-set – n. a particular way of thinking; a person’s attitude or set of opinions about something

pattern – n. the regular and repeated way in which something happens or is done

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