San Bernardino shooting hits too close to home


Photo courtesy of Cwobeel/Wikimedia commons

Photo courtesy of Cwobeel/Wikimedia commons

On Wednesday Dec. 2 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 for a holiday party. The center helps those who suffer from developmental issues. Shortly after the gunshots were heard witnesses reported seeing two suspects run out of the center and into a Black SUV before speeding away.

For the next few hours police searched the local area for what they believed 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”.

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. A shootout followed. Two suspects opened fire on law enforcement firing approximately 78 rounds. Officials returned fire with approximately 380 rounds killing both suspects.

In the hours to follow police confirmed that 14 victims had been killed during the events, ranging from the ages of 27 to 60, and 21 people were wounded including two police officers.

Senior Telemahos Korbakes saw the live coverage of the events on TV between classes.

“I watched in horror as the story broke and was immediately saddened that such horrible things keep happening in our own country,” Korbakes said. “I just hope we learn from it and the families know the whole country is mourning with them.”

After several hours, police confirmed that there was no third shooter, but had confirmed the arrest of a third unnamed suspect. Officials also confirmed the identities of the gunmen as Syed Farook, 28, and Tashfeen Malik, 27, a married couple residing in Redlands, CA.

Farook had met Malik on a trip to Saudi Arabia. Farook is American born, while Malik is not. The couple had a six-month-old daughter who they had dropped off at a relative’s house before going to work. Farook worked as a county health employee who had been at the Inland Regional Center the morning of the shooting before reportedly leaving after an argument with an Inland Regional employee.

FBI officials did not want to immediately state the motive for the attacks; however by the morning of Friday, Dec. 11 officials confirmed that they are investigating the attacks as an act of terror. The FBI is still investigating all aspects of the attack, but they did confirm that both Farook and Malik had contacted individuals that the FBI have been investigating for their part in other acts of terror. Officials also confirmed that Malik had used Facebook to pledge her allegiance to the leader of the Islamic State (IS). The FBI is still investigating if the couple had received help from members of IS to plan the attacks.

According to a U.S. non-profit group, Gun Violence Archive, this attack marks the 310 verified mass shooting in the U.S.

The attack drew comments from all potential presidential candidates, as well as from President Obama who held an emergency press conference shortly after the event occurred. 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.

In the following days politicians used the events to debate the platform of gun control amongst other issues. In his most recent press conference on Sunday, Dec. 6, President Obama addressed the public from the Oval Office. This is only the third time President Obama has delivered a speech from inside the Oval Office, the other two times being to address the public on the U.S. ending combat operations in Iraq and during the BP oil spill, both occurring in 2010, marking the action as one of great importance.

During his address Obama continued to voice his frustrations over U.S. control laws and regulations. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) did confirm that at least two of the four weapons used in the shootings were purchased legally. The ATF also confirmed that officials discovered thousands of rounds of ammunition, several more weapons, and multiple explosive devices in a search of Farook’s house.

In Sunday’s press conference Obama stated he believed the U.S. could overcome the threat of terror, however only with the support of the Muslim community.

“If we’re to succeed in defeating terrorism, we must enlist Muslim communities as some of our strongest allies, rather than push them away through suspicion and hate,” Obama said.

Obama also stated that he had ordered the Department of State and Department of Homeland Security to review visa programs, specifically the K-1 fiance visa that allowed Malik to join Farook in the U.S.

Between the Paris attacks, also related to IS, and the most recent attack in San Bernardino, several countries have discussed advancing their role in the fight against the IS. The most noteable countries include Great Britain and Russia, who have both started sending air support and commenced air strikes in IS controlled regions of the Middle East. President Obama also stated in a press conference on Dec. 6 that the U.S. would be increasing their presence in the IS controlled regions.

The devastating attacks, not only in San Bernardino, but elsewhere in the U.S. and around the world have uneased the world. However the idea that an act of terror can hit so close to home is something most students at USD have not faced in their lifetime. Most USD students are at a loss for words when it comes to the attack, but moving forward it will come from the voices of this generation to stop the terror that is spreading the world.