Friends and family have described Nicholas Thalasinos, one of the 14 people slaughtered in San Bernardino , as a devoted father, husband and colleague, a dedicated health inspector, colourful dresser and outspoken conservative.
But as investigators probe Wednesday’s rampage, seeking clues about the killers’ motives, his widow, Jennifer, says she believes he was also a martyr.
Thalasinos died at the hands of Syed Farook and Tashfeen Malik, a married couple who opened fire in the Inland Regional Center, a social services agency where Farook worked.
Farook, 28, and Malik were Muslims and Thalasinos, a Messianic Jew, took issue with Islam. He wrote fiery posts online and denounced Muslims as violent “turbanheads”. He had also argued with Farook, a fellow health inspector.
Their relationship came under scrutiny on Friday when lawyers for Farook’s family cited workplace tension as a possible factor in the country’s deadliest mass shooting in three years. “Someone made fun of his beard. He was a very isolated, introverted individual with really no friends that we could identify,” David Chesley told a news conference in Los Angeles.
Farook had mentioned the teasing to his family, said Mohammad Abuershaid, another attorney. The lawyers mentioned “intolerance” and a “disgruntled colleague” at Farook’s workplace but did not elaborate.
Thalasinos’s widow told the New York Post on Thursday her husband was “anti-Muslim” and “probably had plenty to say” to Farook. “I’m sure everybody has seen his Facebook page. He’s very outspoken about Islamic terrorism and how he feels about politics in the state of the country,” she said.
However, the agency said there was no indication they were part of an larger organised group. Law enforcement officials who briefed multiple news organisations said investigators were exploring possible additional motives, including workplace tensions over religion.
Two weeks ago Kuuleme Stephens heard a heated argument when she phoned Thalasinos, a friend, at work. Farook said Thasalinos did not understand Islam, prompting Thalasinos to lament that he did not know how to talk to his colleague, Stephens told the Associated Press.
The day before he was killed Thalasinos posted on his Facebook page that he had received a threatening message from a man he described as an anti-Semitic brain surgeon named “Med Ali Zarouk” from the Ukraine.
The message stated that Thalasinos would never succeed in making a “country for Jews” and ended by saying “soon you ll get your ass kicked, you will die and never see israel as country believe me never”.
Thalasinos responded in the same post that his new hobby was “blocking pagan anti-Semitic troglodytes”. He also noted that an earlier message from another person was far worse.
Thalasinos often posted fiery opinions on a range of topics, including politics and religion. He criticized everyone from Barack Obama to “Iranian fascists”, lamented the lack of biblical teachings in schools and declared global warming a farce.
Friends and relatives said that away from his computer Thalasinos was warm and generous. San Bernardino Valley College student Jaclynn Moore, a San Bernardino Valley College student who lives next door to his house in Colton, expressed disbelief when she learned of his death on Friday.
“This hits too close to home,” Moore, 34, said. She described Thalasinos as a sweet and friendly gentleman who wore colourful outfits – bright red or purple shirts, a pair of suspenders and a black hat.
She nicknamed him “superman” because he would heave heavy boxes of bottled water into her house, an appreciated gesture because she has a lung condition. “It’s just devastating that I connect with somebody and got to know somebody and then this happens,” she said.
Moore described Thalasinos and his wife as quiet, kind people. “The world is a darker place now that Nick isn’t in it,” she said.
By Friday a crowd funding campaign to help pay for funeral costs for Thalasinos had raised almost $12,000 .
guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media 2015
‘Martyrdom for snowflakes’: CNN analyst knocks Republicans who desperately wanted to be arrested at protest
CNN host Don Lemon reported Wednesday evening that many Republicans wanted to be arrested for storming the secure room where the House Intelligence Committee depositions were taking place.
Fox News reporter Chad Pergram tweeted that he was told "there was never any chance [members] who barged into SCIF would be arrested by [capital police], but some members asked to be arrested. They wanted the optic of being frog-marched out of the SCIF in front of TV cameras. That would help w/GOP narrative of Dem process abuse."
Commentator Wajahat Ali called it the perfect example of "martyrdom for snowflakes."
Seth Meyers says Republicans storming classified room looked like a protest at a pharmacy that ran out of Viagra
"Late Night" comedian Seth Meyers couldn't help but lambast the far-right Republicans angry that they're not being included in the depositions ahead of the impeachment hearings.
Wednesday, Republicans stormed a secure room known as a SCIF (Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility), because they seemed to misunderstand the difference between a deposition and a hearing. In Congressional hearings, witnesses will be presented for members of the committee to question. In a classified deposition, the witness can give information that is considered classified for security reasons. Oddly, some members who are allowed in the room were also protesting.
WATCH: CNN’s Don Lemon bursts out laughing over Trump’s new wall in Colorado
CNN's Don Lemon typically deals with difficult and intense topics at the top of his weekly show. Wednesday night, however, after a serious opener about Syria and ISIS, Lemon broke into hysterics over President Donald Trump's flub saying he would build a border wall on Colorado's border.
"You know why we're going to win New Mexico? Because they want safety on our border. And they didn't have it," said Trump. "And we're building a wall on the border of New Mexico. And we're building a wall in Colorado. We're building a beautiful wall, a big one that really works — you can't get over, you can't get under. And we're building a wall in Texas. And we're not building a wall in Kansas, but they get the benefit of the walls that we just mentioned. And Louisiana's incredible."