At least 14 people were killed and two suspects shot dead on Wednesday after up to three people on a mission that authorities described as “possibly terrorism” barged into a holiday party in a California conference room and unleashed a bloodbath. Seventeen other people were wounded when the shooting started inside the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino, about 55 miles east of downtown Los Angeles, police said.
- The shooting which erupted during a holiday party in a conference room left at least 14 people dead
- At least 10 of 17 wounded are in critical condition.
- Police shot two suspects after a high-speed chase in a shootout hours later.
- A police officer was wounded in the shootout.
Two suspects in the mass shooting that killed 14 people at a center for people with developmental disabilities were fatally shot in a gun battle with police hours after the initial incident.
The suspects – a man and a woman – had assault-style rifles and handguns, San Bernardino Police Chief Jarrod Burguan told reporters.
The shooter or shooters fled in a black SUV after the shooting about at 11 a.m. (2 p.m. ET), police said. A bomb squad was still examining a suspicious device believed to be an explosive at the scene late Wednesday afternoon, Burguan said.
About 4½ hours after the shootings, police checking a lead in the nearby town of Redlands began chasing a car believed to be related to the incident.. The chase led back to San Bernardino, where two people described as suspects — a man and a woman — were killed, he said.
A third person who was seen running away from the scene was in custody, Burguan said. Investigators were also carefully reviewing material at that scene as a possible explosives.
Sources from multiple agencies identified one of the three attackers at the resource center to NBC News as Syed Farook. No other information was available, but a knowledgeable source said another member of the trio is believed to be Farook’s brother.
Authorities said 10 of the 17 injured were taken to hospitals in critical condition. Fire Chief Tom Hannemann said three people were in serious condition.
It appeared to be the worst mass shooting since the December 2012 slaughter of 20 first-graders and six staffers at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.
“These people came prepared to do what they did as if they were on a mission,” Burguan said. “They were armed with long guns, not with handguns.”
The police chief warned that the death toll could climb as investigators continued to search the building.
California Governor Jerry Brown canceled the state’s annual Christmas tree lighting ceremony Wednesday night “out of respect for Californians affected by today’s tragedy.”
The mayhem came just days after a gunman barged into a Planned Parenthood facility in Colorado Springs, Colorado, killing three people during a five hour siege.
Democrat Hillary Clinton was the first of the presidential candidates to weigh in on the unfolding tragedy.
“I refuse to accept this as normal,” she tweeted. “We must take action to stop gun violence now.”
She was followed by Democratic rivals Martin O’Malley and Bernie Sanders and Republican candidates Donald Trump. Ben Carson, Ted Cruz, Jeb Bush, John Kasich, George Pataki, Lindsey Graham, Chris Christie and Mike Huckabee.
“California shooting looks very bad,” Trump tweeted. “Good luck to law enforcement and God bless. This is when our police are so appreciated!”
In his reaction, US President Barack Obama called for stricter firearms laws, calling the spate of gun violence in the U.S. “unparalleled” to other countries.
Obama told CBS News that the country could enact “common sense gun laws” and stronger background checks to reduce the frequency of mass shootings in America.
“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 the world,” Obama said. “And there are some steps that we could take — not to eliminate every one of these mass shootings — but to improve the odds that they don’t happen as frequently.”
He also said that Americans on a no-fly list are still legally able to buy guns. “That’s a law that needs to be changed.”
“We should never think that this is something that just happens in the ordinary course of events, because it doesn’t happen with the same frequency in other countries,” Obama said.
House Speaker Paul Ryan held a moment of silence for the victims of the shooting while at the annual Capitol Christmas Tree lighting ceremony. “Please keep the victims and their families in your prayers right now,” Ryan said.