Mass shooting rocks local community
KEVIN NELSON | MANAGING EDITOR | THE USD VISTA | @KNEL17
FOR AN UPDATED STORY CHECK OUT: SAN BERNARDINO SHOOTING HITS TOO CLOSE TO HOME
At approximately 10:20 a.m. gunshots rang out in a conference room at the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino, CA. The conference room was filled with staff members and patients of the Regional Center, which helps those who suffer from developmental issues, who were having a holiday party at the time. Shortly after two gunmen had entered the room and opened fire they were reported leaving the scene in a black SUV.
For the next few hours police searched the local area for what they believe to be three possible suspects who were reported as being heavily armed with assault rifles and body armor. As law enforcement tried to close down the scene, reports flooded in on the police department’s tip line. The FBI, ATF, County Sheriff’s office, and the Department of Homeland Security all sent assistance to the site to try to aid local law enforcement.
The following hours were nerve racking for San Bernardino residents, and fears that the attack was not over were looming. With the building still on lockdown in fear that another suspect was still hiding inside, a message from an employee was delivered to her father and media outlets, “Pray for us”.
Moments later at approximately 3:06 p.m. the police scanners filled with activity and officers swooped into a frenzy. The black SUV which the gunmen had fled in had been spotted in the local area. What followed was an intense shootout where officials were able to shoot and kill two suspects, one in the vehicle and one attempting to flee outside the vehicle. In the shootout one police officer was injured but was later reported as stable with a non life-threatening injury.
In a press conference following the events, police confirmed that 14 victims had been killed and there were 17 injuries ranging from critical to non life-threatening injuries. Officers would not immediately confirm the identities of neither gunmen nor any of the victims as they continued their manhunt for a possible third suspect.
As the manhunt for the third possible suspect continued, officials became concerned with multiple IED and bomb threats that they believe had possibly been left or set by the gunmen.
In a second press conference at approximately 5:37 p.m. police officials confirmed that both gunmen had in fact died from gun inflicted wounds. Additionally, they confirmed that one suspect was a male and the other suspect was a female. At that time, FBI officials took over to confirm that the hunt for a third suspect was continuing in Redlands, CA.
A search warrant was served in Redlands a few hours later at the home of Syed Farook who police named as a possible third suspect. Farook had been identified by a witness as leaving the Regional Center before the attacks after getting in a dispute with staff members there.
In a third press conference at 10:00 p.m. local official confirmed the male shooter was actually Farook, who they identified as a 28 year old who had been working for the counting health department for 5 years. The female shooter was identified as 27 year old Tashfeen Malik, Farook’s wife. It has been reported that the couple has left behind a 6 month old daughter. Officials stated that they believed the shooting was pre-planned and the argument was not the main source driving the shooting. Officials also confirmed that they had discovered and cleared multiple explosive devices. Officials are still searching for a specific motive and are not ready to call the shooting an act of religiously driven terrorism.
In a press conference this morning law enforcement officials confirmed that all weapons used in the attack were legally purchased. Officials also commented that they are still unsure if the motive that lead to the attacks and they are still not ruling out terrorism.
The attack drew comments from all potential presidential candidates as well as from President Obama who held an emergency press conference. Obama used the conference to express his frustration with events and others similar to it in the U.S.
“We have a pattern now of mass shootings in this country that has no parallel anywhere else in the world,” Obama said.
President Obama is also scheduled to talk later today about the incident.
The attacks have shaken the country. If it were deemed to be a global terrorist attack it could mean a call for further action militarily by the U.S. abroad. However, at this moment it is not clear exactly what the gunmen’s motives were. Law enforcement have stated that they believe the situation is now contained, although they will remain on high alert as the investigation continues.