Some 3,500 mourners held a candlelit vigil in San Bernardino, California, on Thursday night for the 14 people
shot dead in a gun rampage at a holiday party there.
The memorial in a sports stadium came as investigators sought clues to the shooters’ motives and whether they had links to Islamist militants.
Syed Rizwan Farook, 28, and Tashfeen Malik, 27, both killed in a shootout with police following Wednesday’s massacre, are accused of carrying out one of the bloodiest mass killings in the United States.
A devout Muslim, Farook, 28, was described as quiet and peaceful.
“You know, always a nice person, never mean, never angry, never even seen him mad or upset about anything,” said Rahemaan Ali, 18, who attended the same mosque in Southern California as the shooting suspect.
“Always nice, smile on his face, good brother…Never preached about anything wrong, about killing anything, about politics, never said anything about his work…that, ‘oh I hate this person’, or ‘this person is giving me trouble, what should I do?’”
“He is someone who used to listen to my sermons, my talks here,” said Mustafa Kuko, director of the Islamic Center of Riverside. “I sat up last night thinking about him and what’s happened.”
Kuko has trouble understanding how Farook could have betrayed the very principles of his religion.
“We’re told in Islam if you take one human life, it’s as if you’ve taken all of mankind.”
Mahmood Nadvi, an assistant imam at the Dar Al Uloom Al Islamiyah-Amer mosque in San Bernardino, which Farook began attending in 2014, was equally disturbed.
“You can’t be a true Muslim and sleep after this,” he said
“We weep for our brothers and sisters lost in humanity.”
Muslims have held their own prayer vigils for the dead.
Muslim community groups have condemned the massacre and urged the public not to blame Islam or Muslims, amid fears their religion could be demonised and Islamophobia could spread.