S. E. Williams
Mass Shooting Leaves 14 Dead, at least or over 18 Injured (including two police officers), and A Community Confused & In Mourning
The San Bernardino Police and Fire Departments received the first frantic calls around 11:00 a.m. Wednesday morning from individuals at the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino.
As many as two armed gunmen entered the Inland Regional Center and according to at least one eyewitness, without saying a word, they opened fire. Some witnesses claimed they wore masks and dark colored, possibly camouflage-type clothing.
According to a police spokesperson, the shooters “came with a purpose”. The suspects were not only heavily armed; it appeared they possibly wore some form of body armor as well.
Before the gunmen fled the scene, at least 14 individuals were dead; as many as 18 injured; and, another American community had lost its innocence. According to officials, most victims were found in the conference room area.
San Bernardino Police Department, County Sheriffs and SWAT cordoned off the area. Victims were rushed to local hospitals for treatment as frantic family members rushed to the scene. Eyewitnesses reported seeing a black SUV rush from the scene around the time of the shooting.
The Inland Regional Center is a non-profit, private community-based agency with a staff of more than 650 employees. The agency works to obtain services and support for the more than 31,000 individuals with developmental disabilities in San Bernardino and Riverside County. It is the largest such center in California.
Although the shooting occurred at the Inland Regional Center (IRC) facility initial speculation pointed to the intended target as not being the IRC; but instead, focused on the facility’s conference center where the San Bernardino County Department of Health was hosting a Christmas banquet with approximately 200 people in attendance. Details are still unclear as to what may have motivated the shooters. However, as the evening progressed, reports circulated about an alleged relationship between a possible employee, Syed Farook, and possibly his brother, being somehow connect to the event. This information is still fluid.
Early in the investigation, police followed one of several tips that led them to a home in Redlands. While in the process of setting up, a black SUV was observed leaving the scene. Officers followed in pursuit and the vehicle led them back to San Bernardino to San Bernardino Avenue between Mountain View and Richardson.
The officers subsequently engaged two suspects in the vehicle in a shoot out. It resulted in the deaths of the two suspects at scene, one male and one female. According to San Bernardino Police Chief Jarrod Burguan, the suspects were dressed in dark-colored, assault-style clothing and armed with both assault rifles and handguns. Also, according to Burguan, there were suspicious items, possibly explosive devices, near the vehicle that required them to proceed with caution. Late into the evening the scene remained cordoned off.
Several 911 calls were received from residents in the area of the shoot-out. They reported noises conducive to someone running and possibly jumping fences in the area. As a result, residents were advised by the police to shelter-in-place while the area was searched and an all clear given.
Also, according to Burguan, a third person was observed fleeing the scene of the shoot-out. That individual was taken into custody; however, according to Burguan, “There was no confirmation as to whether that individual was involved in the day’s event”.
At an evening press conference, Burguan confirmed officials were, “Still working on the building at the IRC.” He also confirmed while officers were searching the building, they found some suspicious devices and expressed concern they may be explosive devices.
“We are taking a cautious and slow approach,” Burguan advised and continued. “It may take several hours for the bomb squad to complete their work.”
Burguan spoke about rumors of a disgruntled individual who possibly left the holiday party after an angry encounter and may have returned to exact revenge. “We have no idea if that is the person who came back,” he said. Some continue to speculate the disgruntled individual may have been Farook.
During the evening press conference David Bowdich, Assistant Director Federal Bureau of Investigation, Los Angeles Field Office assured the community his agency, “Will continue to apply all resources necessary to assure the ATF, sheriff, police and FBI will chase down every lead.” He also reminded everyone the investigation is a marathon, not a sprint. “We will go where the evidence takes us,” he responded when asked about the possibility of terrorism. “There are a few potential things that may indicate terrorism,” he offered cautiously. “We are still gathering facts and just don’t know yet.”
The injured were taken to local hospitals. Among them, at least ten are in critical condition. A spokesperson for Loma Linda University Hospital, Redlands, reported treating at least five of the 18 injured. Two were in critical but stable condition; one was in fair condition; and, as of 5:00 p.m., the other individual was still being assessed.
This was the worst mass shooting in America since the Sandy Hook Elementary School Massacre in Newtown, Connecticut in December 2012. That event ended with 28 deaths, 27 at the school and the shooter’s mother at her home. In total, 20 children and eight adults lost their lives that day including the shooter.
The San Bernardino Massacre will sadly take its place as one of the top ten deadliest mass shootings in a single day in U.S. history:
April 16, 2007, 32 killed – Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Virginia. A gunman, 23-year-old student Seung-Hui Cho, goes on a shooting spree killing 32 people in two locations and wounds an undetermined number of others on campus. The shooter, Seung-Hui Cho then commits suicide.
December 14, 2012, 27 killed – Sandy Hook Elementary School, Newtown, Connecticut. Adam Lanza, 20, guns down 20 children, ages six and seven, and six adults, school staff and faculty, before turning the gun on himself. Investigating police later find Nancy Lanza, Adam’s mother, dead from a gunshot wound. The final count is 28 dead, including the shooter.
October 16, 1991, 23 killed – In Killeen, Texas, 35-year-old George Hennard crashes his pickup truck through the wall of a Luby’s Cafeteria. After exiting the truck, Hennard shoots and kills 23 people. He then commits suicide.
July 18, 1984, 21 killed – In San Ysidro, California, 41-year-old James Huberty, armed with a long-barreled Uzi, a pump-action shotgun and a handgun shoots and kills 21 adults and children at a local McDonalds. A police sharpshooter kills Huberty one hour after the rampage begins.
August 1, 1966, 18 killed – In Austin, Texas, Charles Joseph Whitman, a former U.S. Marine, kills 16 and wounds at least 30 while shooting from a University of Texas tower. Police officers Ramiro Martinez and Houston McCoy shoot and kill Whitman in the tower. Whitman had also killed his mother and wife earlier in the day.
December 2, 2015, 14 killed – In San Bernardino, California, other details are yet to be determined.
August 20, 1986, 14 killed – Edmond, Oklahoma, part-time mail carrier, Patrick Henry Sherrill, armed with three handguns kills 14 postal workers in 10 minutes and then takes his own life with a bullet to the head.
November 5, 2009, 13 killed – Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan kills 13 people and injures 32 at Fort Hood, Texas, during a shooting rampage. He is convicted and sentenced to death.
April 3, 2009, 13 killed – In Binghamton, New York, Jiverly Wong kills 13 people and injures four during a shooting at an immigrant community center. He then kills himself.
April 20, 1999, 13 killed – Columbine High School – Littleton, Colorado. 18-year-old Eric Harris and 17-year-old Dylan Klebold kill 12 fellow students and one teacher before committing suicide in the school library.
The Voice will continue to follow this story.