San Bernardino Shooting: Male and Female Suspected Killers Dead After Shootout With Police
The worst mass shooting since 2013’s Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting unfolded in the California working class city of San Bernandino, where 14 people attending a Christmas party at a county building serving the region’s disabled were gunned down by three reported assailants with assault rifles.
At least two of the suspected killers, an unidentified man and a woman both dressed in black, were killed several hours later in a shootout with police on a nearby side street, local police said in an early evening press conference Wednesday.
Later in the evening, various media reported that one of the shooters was Sayed Farook, a county environmental health department employee. They did not report if he was killed or in custody.
Earlier in the day, three shooters reportedly gained entry to a Christmas party at the county’s Inland Regional Center, a non-profit serving people with disabilities, and used assault rifles to slaughter the attendees. Seventeen other people were injured and taken to nearby hospitals.
San Bernardino police and FBI officials said they are looking at several motives, but would not confirm any theory other than saying there had been an argument at the party before the shooting began.
“Somebody did leave, but I have no idea if that was the person who came back,” said San Bernardino Police Chief Jarrod Burguan.
For hours, the shooting and police chase paralyzed a working class city of 200,000 that lies 60 miles east of Los Angeles. As the evening unfolded, it was clear that local, state and federal police were actively investigating a range of crime scene sites.
There were several focal points of the shooting spree and ensuing police chase: the Inland Regional Center; a house in the nearby city of Redlands where police found the getaway black SUV; and the San Bernardino neighborhood where a gun battle erupted killing the two suspected killers.
Some were being carefully combed for explosive devices, following reports that the shooters had pipe bombs. Late Wednesday night, a search warrant was being served by a SWAT team in a condominium complex that had been evacuated, local media reported.
One police officer was injured in the gunfight with the suspects in the SUV, Burguan said, however the injuries were not life-threatening. Reports from at least one trauma center said two shooting victims were in critical but stable condition. Another local hospital said other victims were in critical condition and most of those hospitalized there were women.
The San Bernardino incident was the second mass shooting Wednesday—four people were killed in a Savannah, Georgia incident—and the 355th such event in 2015. A mass shooting is defined by law enforcement as involving four or more victims.
The San Bernardino shooting occurred at about 11am PST, when the shooters burst into a conference room that had been rented by a health care provider for its annual awards and Christmas party, the Los Angeles Times reported.
The shooters escaped in a dark SUV, prompting a manhunt that unfolded for hours and was televised live. Entire neighborhoods were told to shelter in place and dozens of public schools were locked down until late afternoon.
In the early evening press conference, San Bernardino’s police chief said they received tips that led the police to a house in nearby Redlands, where the SUV was spotted and then followed back to a San Bernardino street about two miles from the Inland Regional Center.
A gun battle ensued when police confronted the SUV, leaving the two suspected killers dead. In addition to the military-style assault rifles, handguns were also found inside the vehicle. A third person was seen fleeing the scene and taken into police custody, but Burguan would not say if that person was the third reported shooter or a bystander trying to flee a gun battle. One officer was shot in that confrontation.
Local police were working with the FBI and other federal authorities to investigate the shooting, motives and possible accomplices. The FBI officer in charge was repeatedly asked if this was a terrorist attack, which he would neither confirm nor deny.
“They were dressed and equipped,” Burguan said, referring to the shooters and their tactics. He would not identify the likely assailants or the makes or models of their weapons. He said the dead man and woman in the getaway SUV were “dressed in dark tactical gear; that’s the best way I can put it.”
More details are emerging in the unfolding police chase in San Bernadino County, CA, where 14 people have died and another 17 have been injured during a shooting by what is believed to be three suspects at a social services center at 11am PST.
There are media reports based on law enforcement sources that one of the shooters reportedly attended the event at a county office complex where a health care provider rented a ballroom and then returned with the other assailants armed with rifles and wearing body armor.
Within the last hour the SUV that was used as a getaway was stopped by police, where a shootout ensued. One officer was shot, a local police spokeswoman said, saying one is believed to be dead and another possibly on the ground. A separate chase is unfolding in a neighborhood 2 miles from the attack. Just before 5 PM a second SWAT team descended on another home in the nearby town of Redlands.
Other reports about the shooting follow. According to the Guardian:
In a residential area two miles east of the site of the shooting, at least three SWAT vehicles have surrounded a black SUV where one suspect is believed to have been killed. According to NBC Bay Area news, which is broadcasting live pictures via helicopter, a second suspect is reported to be lying in the street.
One officer is also believed to have been injured, but police say he is OK.
The photograph below shows the police confrontation with the reported suspects.
The police department’s SWAT team was training nearby and was suited, “ready to roll” and responded rapidly, said Lt. Richard Lawhead, according to KTLA. The city of San Bernardino's Police Chief Jarrod Burguan said at a hastily organized press conference that the attackers "came prepared to do what they did, as if they were on a mission.”
The Los Angeles Times has reported that a bomb squad detonated an apparent explosive device left at the scene.
WATCH: More news updates below via live KTLA video feed:
Witnesses told police they saw three men with long rifles, a law enforcement source told CNN. The source said the suspects got into a black SUV and drove away.
The bomb squad found a suspicious package on the second floor of a building and determined it is "not normal," the source said. They are going to handle it with a robot, the source added.
• There are multiple buildings in the complex, CNN affiliate KTLA reported. SWAT teams are moving methodically through to clear them.
• The FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives were responding, agency representatives said.
Police have moved reporters away from the Center but continue to close in on the building, with tactical teams and explosives technicians going room to room in the search for civilians and suspects.
San Bernardino police believe the suspect or suspects are well armed and possibly wearing body armor, a spokesperson has told the LA Times, in line with accounts heard by local reporters.
Sergeant Vicky Cervantes told reporters that officers are going door to door. “It’s a very active scene,” she said. “It’s very fluid.”
Araksya Karapetyan of the local Fox affiliate has heard similar accounts.
Local ABC7 has spoken with a man whose wife was in the center when the shooting began, and who managed to escape the building.
“They locked themselves in her office. They seen bodies on the floor,” Aguilera said, adding that his wife saw ambulances taking people out of the building on stretchers.
California police have confirmed “one to three possible suspects” in an active shooter event in the city of San Bernardino, saying they are responding to an incident with multiple victims.
The county sheriff and fire departments have reported varying numbers of victims, with the sheriff tweeting “multiple victims” and the fire department saying that units have responded “to reports of [a] 20 victim shooting incident”.
The attack took place at the Inland Regional Center, a medical facility that works with developmentally disabled people. The building was evacuated; people were taken across the street to a golf course, where some were reportedly being treated for injuries.