Police confirmed Thursday, Dec. 3 that at least 14 people were killed and another 21 were injured after a shooting that took place in San Bernardino, California, on Wednesday, Dec. 2 at approximately 11 a.m. PST. Several hours after the shooting, officials confirmed that two suspects – Syed Farook, 28 and his wife, Tashfeen Malik, 27 – were dead after a shootout in Redlands, California, less than 10 miles from the site of the shooting.
Harding graduate and former College of Communication instructor Jeremy Beauchamp was born in southern California and previously lived in Redlands. He said his grandfather was undergoing open-heart surgery at St. Bernardine Medical Center in San Bernardino, one of the hospitals that some of the victims were taken to.
“Some of my family, including my mother and aunt, were in the waiting room watching the events unfold on TV,” Beauchamp said. “The hospital was put on lockdown as news of the shooting spread, and at least one victim of the attack was brought to the hospital. The victim’s family said she had been shot in the side during the attack and played dead to avoid further violence.”
According to the Los Angeles Times, Farook, a health inspector with San Bernardino County’s public health department, was in attendance at a Christmas party held in a conference room at the Inland Regional Center (IRC). Co-workers claim that Farook left the party early, with some sources reporting he left angrily after some sort of confrontation, while others reported that he remained quiet and distant before leaving unnoticed until a picture session. Approximately 10-30 minutes later, two masked people – equipped with assault rifles, tactical gear and body armor – entered the room and opened fire.
San Bernardino police Chief Jarrod Burguan said in a press conference Wednesday night that police arrived at the scene within four minutes of the first call they received. While officers cleared the building of potential explosives, the attackers fled in a black SUV, according to NPR. After several survivors identified one of the shooters as Farook by his voice and build, police went to a residence in Redlands associated with the suspect. Around 3 p.m. PST, a black SUV approached the house and then sped off, triggering a high-speed pursuit with shots being fired from the back of the vehicle. Several minutes later the vehicle came to a stop, and shooting continued for about a minute until a suspect was downed in the street. After a brief standoff, police approached the vehicle and pulled a second body out of the back of the SUV.
At approximately 6 p.m. PST, Burguan confirmed that the two downed suspects were Farook and Malik, and that each had been armed with an assault rifle and a semi-automatic pistol. Burguan said that officials were confident that Farook and Malik had committed the shooting at the IRC, and that with their deaths he felt all suspects had been neutralized.
Beauchamp said he still has family in Redlands, and that they live on the street on which the final shootout occurred. He said the events’ proximity to his own family and former residence gave him a deeper perspective on these types of tragedies.
“You hear about things like this happening across the country, across the globe, but when evil happens where you grew up, it takes on something altogether more personal,” Beauchamp said. “You feel it viscerally. It’s just surreal and rather absurd to be getting updates on your grandpa’s surgery alongside reports of victims who were forced to play dead.”
With 14 confirmed dead, the shooting is the deadliest mass killing in the U.S. since the Sandy Hook shooting in 2012, and the third deadliest since the Virginia Tech shooting in 2007, according to CNN. Burguan added in a press conference that three explosives were found at the IRC and disposed of. While motive behind the shooting remains unclear, Burguan stated last night that terrorism has not been ruled out, though David Bowdich, FBI assistant director in charge of the Los Angeles field office, said he was not ready to confirm the shooting as a terrorist action.