By Tim Reid and Yasmeen Abutaleb SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. (Reuters) - The couple suspected of killing 14 people at a holiday party in California amassed thousands of rounds of ammunition and a dozen pipe bombs, authorities said on Thursday as they sought clues to the pair's motives and whether they had links to Islamist militants. Syed Rizwan Farook, 28, and Tashfeen Malik, 27, his wife and mother of his 6-month-old daughter, were killed in a shootout with police five hours after Wednesday's massacre at the Inland Regional Center social services agency in the city of San Bernardino. Twenty-one people were wounded in the shooting, which ranks as the deadliest instance of U.S. gun violence in three years.
By Alana Wise WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama and his family led the lighting of the National Christmas Tree on Thursday, with charity, thanks, and a moment of reflection for the victims of Wednesday's shooting. Merry Christmas, everybody!" Obama said as the national tree took sparkle for the 93rd year. Flanked by his wife, two daughters and mother-in-law, Obama led the countdown in windy President's Park, across the street from their home at the White House, in a celebration that included performances by pop singer Aloe Blacc and rock band Fall Out Boy.
By Ben Klayman DEARBORN, Mich. (Reuters) - Muslim Americans fear their religion will be demonized and Islamophobia will spread after a young Muslim couple was accused of carrying out one of the bloodiest mass killings in the United States. Across the country, Muslim Americans responded with shock and outrage after a shooting in which authorities said Syed Rizwan Farook, 28, and Tashfeen Malik, 27, stormed a holiday party attended by San Bernardino County employees in California on Wednesday, killing 14 people and wounding 21. It was the deadliest U.S. mass shooting since the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre three years ago.
By Peter Eisler PAGELAND, South Carolina (Reuters) - As sheriff’s investigators threaded past the battered cars, cast-off tires and rusted farm equipment cluttering Brent Nicholson’s front yard, there was no hint of the sinister stockpile hidden behind his windowless front door. “This has completely changed our definition of an ass-load of guns,” said Chesterfield County Sheriff Jay Brooks. Six weeks after the discovery, officers are still cataloging the weapons, many of which have proved stolen, and the final tally is expected to be close to 5,000.
The girls endured such long-term isolation that the eldest, now 19, was diagnosed with a condition known as disarticulation disorder, prosecutor J. Alan Goodwin told the court in Tucson on Wednesday during closing arguments. The two girls told police they fled after their stepfather, Fernando Richter, now 36, kicked in their bedroom door while brandishing a knife.
New York's so-called "Cannibal Cop" was cleared of all charges by a divided U.S. appeals court on Thursday, more than two years after a jury convicted him of plotting to kill and eat women. Former New York City Police Officer Gilberto Valle was found guilty at trial in March 2013 of conspiring to kidnap women and illegally accessing a police database to collect information on potential victims.
The trial of a Baltimore police officer for the death of a black man from an injury while in custody heads into a second day of testimony on Thursday, with prosecutors saying the officer ignored the man's pleas for medical aid. Officer William Porter is the first of six officers to go on trial in Baltimore City Circuit Court for the death in April of Freddie Gray. Gray died a week after he was taken into custody for fleeing an officer and possessing a knife.
By Zandi Shabalala BLOEMFONTEIN (Reuters) - Paralympian Oscar Pistorius's conviction for killing his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp has been scaled up to murder from culpable homicide by South Africa's top appeals court. "Blade Runner" Pistorius could now be sent back to jail for at least 15 years for shooting Steenkamp dead on Valentine's Day 2013. The athlete is expected to be sentenced for the new murder conviction by a lower court at a date still to be determined.
California's Muslim community expressed its horror at the mass shooting that killed at least 14 in San Bernardino, after a local Muslim man was widely identified as a suspect. Syed Farook, a US citizen who worked for the town's health department, is believed to have been killed in a shootout with police hours after opening fire inside a Christmas party at a local social services center. "The Muslim community stands shoulder to shoulder with our fellow Americans in repudiating any twisted mindset that would claim to justify such sickening acts of violence," he added in a statement.
A Texas state agency sued the U.S. State Department, a relief agency and others in federal court on Wednesday, seeking to block the resettlement of Syrian refugees in the state just ahead of a plan to bring a new group of Syrians within a week. The International Rescue Committee is set to relocate two Syrian refugee families to Texas in the coming days despite a threat from state officials that such a move would be reckless and met with a cut in funding for the agency. The Texas Health and Human Services Commission sued, asking the U.S. District Court in Dallas for an immediate restraining order and a hearing by Dec. 9 for an injunction that would prevent resettlement.
Britain will join the US-led bombing campaign against Islamic State (IS) jihadists in Syria after a decisive parliamentary vote, with fighter jets launching their first air strike as early as Thursday. Prime Minister David Cameron's government was backed by 397 lawmakers compared to 223 who opposed the bombing, giving him at 174 the strong mandate he said was essential for military action. Royal Air Force planes based at RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus are already helping to bomb targets in Iraq and government sources indicated that they could start flying missions over Syria imminently.
By Tim Reid and Dan Whitcomb SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. (Reuters) - Gunmen opened fire on a holiday party on Wednesday at a social services agency in San Bernardino, California, killing 14 people and wounding 17 others, then fled the scene, triggering an intense manhunt and a shootout with police, authorities said. One suspect was struck by gunfire and one officer was injured in a confrontation hours after the mass shooting, San Bernardino police spokeswoman Sergeant Vicki Cervantes told reporters, adding that a second suspect might still be "outstanding." She did not know the condition of the struck suspect but said the officer's injuries were not considered to be life-threatening. San Bernardino Police Chief Jarrod Burguan said in a televised news briefing earlier that as many as three suspects were believed to have made their getaway in a dark-colored sport utility vehicle.
A Baltimore policeman on trial for the death of a black man from a spinal injury while in custody failed to secure him in the back of a van and ignored his request for medical aid, a prosecutor said in opening statements on Wednesday. Gray's death in April triggered rioting, arson and protests in the largely black city and fueled a national debate over police tactics and relations with minorities. Porter, 26, faces charges in Baltimore City Circuit Court that include manslaughter, second-degree assault and misconduct.