At least 14 people were dead and another 17 injured in a shooting Wednesday in San Bernardino, California, when multiple gunmen who were heavily armed and “on a mission” opened fire during a function at a center for people with developmental disabilities, police said.
Up to three shooters opened fire around 11 a.m. at the Inland Regional Center, armed with long guns and “came prepared to do what they did as if they were on a mission,” San Bernardino Police Chief Jarrod Burguan said.
The suspects fled the scene and hours later, police found what they believed to be the getaway car. An exchange of gunfire ensued and two of the suspects — a man and a woman — were killed. Authorities said a third suspect may still be on the run.
Video of the scene of where police and the suspects exchanged gunfire showed what appeared to be one suspect’s body lying in a San Bernardino street. The second was removed from the bullet-riddled vehicle. One officer suffered non-life-threatening injuries.
The initial shooting at the social services center lasted for just “a few minutes” before the suspects fled. Investigators have not identified a motive.
“We have no information at this point to indicate that this is terrorist related in the traditional sense that people may be thinking. Obviously at minimum we have a domestic terrorist type situation that occurred here,” Burguan said.
In the course of the investigation, an ATF Explosives Enforcement Officer recovered a suspected pipe bomb. It was not clear where the suspected device was found, but authorities had been checking unidentifiable items in the center. It was not clear if the gunmen brought them.
San Bernardino police spokeswoman Sgt. Vicki Cervantes said earlier that the suspects may have been wearing body armor.
The majority of the casualties took place in one area of the “massive” facility that employs several hundred people, Burguan said. A lunch meeting was going on involving state and county employees as well as a number of organizations, he added.
The San Bernardino County Department of Public Health was having a banquet in the conference area where the shooting happened, according to the CEO of the facility where the shooting took place.
Five people were taken to the nearby Loma Linda University Medical Center, two of which were critical but stable, two of which were fair and the one who was still being assessed, according to a hospital spokeswoman. Six other people are being treated at Arrowhead Regional Medical Center, though their conditions are unknown.
Federal agents from the FBI, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, the U.S. Immigration and CUstoms Enforcement Homeland Security Investigations team and the U.S. Marshals are all on scene providing support to San Bernardino County Sheriff’s office, which is the lead agency in this active shooter response.
President Obama was notified of the shooting while in Paris for the global climate summit.
“The one thing we do know is that we have a pattern now of mass shootings in this country that has no parallel anywhere else in world,” he told CBS.
The Association of Regional Center Agencies, which represents Inland and 20 other regional centers, released a statement saying that they have not confirmed the identities of the dead or the motives of the shooters, but “what we do have are heavy hearts, knowing innocent lives were cut short.”
They explained that there are no known threats against other regional centers, which they clarified treat individuals with developmental disabilities like autism, epilepsy and cerebral palsy. They did close eight centers early “out of an abundance of caution” though they did not specify the locations of those facilities.
A man whose wife works at the Inland Regional Center said that his wife saw a man she believed to be a shooter.
“The guy came in next to her office and I guess started shooting,” said the man, who identified himself to KABC as Marc.
He said that his wife told him she locked herself in her office with others. When she and the others left the building, “they saw bodies on the floor,” Marc said his wife told him.