One San Bernardino Suspect Was A Woman & That's Very, Very Rare

Update: On Wednesday, Dec. 2, a shooting at the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino, California left 14 people dead and 21 wounded. Hours after the attack, police pursued information that led to a chase of a dark SUV, which was later determined to be a rental car. A shootout between police and the suspects left both suspects dead. They were identified as Syed Farook and Tashfeen Malik, who were husband and wife.

According to SBPD Chief Jarrod Burguan, the four guns used in the shooting were purchased legally. The suspects were found to have 1,600 rounds of ammunition with them, and at a home they were renting in Redlands, California, law enforcement officers found 4,500 rounds of ammunition and 12 pipe bombs. No official motive has been confirmed, though a source told The Los Angeles Times that investigators are considering that it might be terrorism or workplace-related.

Earlier: During a press conference about the Inland Regional Center shooting, which took the lives of at least 14 people and injured at least 17, the San Bernardino police chief announced that one of the suspects was a woman. She is one of two suspects who died after a police pursuit; the other was a man. Their names have not yet been released, and it is not yet clear what their relationship was. It's incredibly rare for a mass shooting suspect to be a woman. According to TIME, mass shooters are men 98 percent of the time.

The suspects were dressed in "assault-style" clothing, SBPD Chief Jarrod Burguan said, and were armed with assault rifles and handguns. There also appears to be an explosive device at the IRC, which law enforcement is working to "render safe." Though we do not yet know the suspects' motives, it's clear that this most recent mass shooting is different than others we've seen.

That one of the suspects was a woman is an anomaly — though sometimes, when women are included in mass murder statistics as perpetrators, they actually just assisted in the crime, and didn't pull the trigger.

Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images News/Getty Images

There's a reason for that. Lin Huff-Corzine, who studied data about men and women killers for a Homicide Studies article, told NPR that men are often just more comfortable with guns than women. Women usually use knives, she found, which rarely play a part in mass killings. There are other factors as well. TIME reported that there are both physical and social factors, such as the way testosterone can fuel aggression, or how violent video games and contact sports are more popular among men than women, possibly because of the ideas society has about gender roles.

Rumors have floated around that the San Bernardino shooting may have arisen from a "workplace dispute," though that information has not been confirmed. Whatever the motive, this most recent shooting — the worst since Sandy Hook — is a discouraging look at the current state of our country.