Co-Worker's Question Before Rampage: 'Where's Syed?'

'The situation was surreal,' says responding officer
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 4, 2015 6:58 AM CST
Co-Worker's Question Before Rampage: 'Where's Syed?'
This undated photo shows Syed Rizwan Farook.   (California Department of Motor Vehicles via AP)

Patrick Baccari greeted his San Bernardino County co-worker with his usual joke before a mandatory all-day continuing education meeting in the conference room. "Ready to be bored?" he asked. "I'm ready," Syed Farook said with a smile. Soon the room was filled with 75 people and a supervisor stood up to speak, reports the Washington Post. But after the first hour, Farook had vanished. "Where's Syed?" Baccari recalls someone at his table asking. When Farook next entered the room around 11am, it was with his wife and two assault rifles, police say. While some co-workers were starting to pose for a group photo during a five-minute bathroom break—including some who'd thrown Farook a baby shower—he opened fire, killing 14 and injuring 21 in four minutes. Lt. Mike Madden, who had trained for active-shooter situations, was among the first officers on the scene and entered the Inland Regional Center with three other officers.

"The situation was surreal," he tells the New York Times. "It was unspeakable the carnage we were seeing." They were eventually joined by 300 other officers. After determining that the shooters had fled, they led 50 people from a back hallway and tended to the wounded. A former LAPD SWAT officer says he was "impressed" by the officers' actions. "There was a very short response time, they did a follow-up very rapidly and got on top of the suspects," he tells the Los Angeles Times. "That sometimes takes hours or days." Within an hour of the shooting, a co-worker had told investigators that Farook may have been responsible. Baccari—who happened to be in a bathroom 20 feet from the conference room and hit the floor when a bullet pieced the room's paper-towel dispenser—couldn't believe it. Farook was a talented worker who'd won an interoffice reward for his performance. "We all thought he was doing great," he says. "He got along with everybody," a colleague adds. (More San Bernardino stories.)

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