June 13, 2024 #1 Local News, Information and Event Source for the Century City/Westwood areas.

Los Angeles Crisis Experts At Disposal of San Bernadino Authorities After Massacre

"Hundreds of officers swarmed a six-block area of #SanBernardino in pursuit of suspects" Photo via Twitter/@CNN.
“Hundreds of officers swarmed a six-block area of #SanBernardino in pursuit of suspects” Photo via Twitter/@CNN.

Crisis response experts from Los Angeles were at the disposal of San Bernardino County authorities today following a massacre blamed on a couple with a connection to Saudi Arabia, and investigators examined whether international terrorism was a factor in the violence.

The shooting Wednesday inside a San Bernardino treatment center for people with developmental disabilities and the subsequent gun battle in which police killed the suspected shooters shocked the nation and left similar facilities and law enforcement across the Southland on edge.

President Barack Obama called it part of a pattern of mass shootings with “no parallel anywhere else in the world,” and this morning he ordered that the Stars and Stripes be flown at half-staff at all U.S. federal facilities in the United States and abroad and on all U.S. Navy ships.

Federal officials in Los Angeles and elsewhere in the nation tried today to uncover the motive for the attack and determine if there was an international terrorism component or if it should be regarded strictly as workplace violence.

The Los Angeles Police Department, which was already on a heightened state of alert due to the recent Paris terror attacks, did not immediately mobilize following Wednesday’s 11 a.m. shooting in the Inland Regional Center, where 14 people were killed and 17 wounded.

But the LAPD briefly went on a modified tactical alert in response to the violence. The alert enabled the department to extend officers’ shifts, according to Officer Aareon Jefferson.

Under a full tactical alert, only priority calls would be answered. The modified tactical alert was lifted shortly after 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, when the two suspects in the shooting were confirmed to be dead. Authorities identified them as Syed Rizwan Farook, 28, and Tashfeen Malik, 27, who were married two years and had a 6-month-old daughter.

Farook was born in the United States of Pakistani parents and was reported to be a five-year employee of the agency holding the party. The Los Angeles Times reported that he had traveled to Saudi Arabia and returned with a new wife he met online. A relative of Farook identified Malik as his wife, according to media reports, which said she was from Pakistan.

Farhan Khan, who said he was a brother-in-law and the husband of Farook’s sister, told reporters his entire family is “shocked and very sorry for what happened.”

“We had no idea something (like) this could happen,” Khan said at an Anaheim news conference organized by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-LA).

Apparently fearing an anti-Muslim backlash, CAIR-LA’s Executive Director, Hussam Ayloush, issued a statement on behalf of the group and the Islamic Shura Council of Southern California.

“We condemn this horrific and revolting attack and offer our heartfelt condolences to the families and loved ones of all those killed or injured,” Ayloush said.  “The Muslim community stands shoulder to shoulder with our fellow Americans in repudiating any twisted mindset that would claim to justify such sickening acts of violence.”

In a precautionary move, the Harbor Regional Center in Torrance closed for the rest of the day Wednesday following the shootings, as did the North Los Angeles County Regional Center, and the Eastern Los Angeles Regional Center. All of them reopened today.

The city of Los Angeles Emergency Operations Center was activated “out of an abundance of caution” to monitor the situation, but city officials said there were “no known impacts from the shooting in the city.”

“Our police and fire agencies are in contact with their counterparts in San Bernardino and are on standby to assist as needed,” said Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti.

“In addition, my Mayor’s Office Crisis Response Team, trained in trauma intervention and grief counseling, has offered its support to San Bernardino – – with a team of volunteers being made available to assist law enforcement agencies with outreach to affected family members, friends and the community.”

San Bernardino Police Chief Jarrod Burguan said the attack reflected planning.

“Based upon what we have seen and based upon how they were equipped there had to have been some degree of planning to this,” he said. “I don’t think they just ran home, put on these types of tactical clothes, grabbed guns and came back on a spur of the moment thing.”

Police and witnesses said the assailants walked into a holiday party in a conference room and started shooting. Farook had been there earlier, then left angrily, according to reports from the scene.

According to Burguan, the investigation led police to a home in Redlands, and as officers approached, Farook and Malik fled in a dark SUV. A pursuit ensued, ending back in San Bernardino, where a gun battle ensued. Farook and Malik were killed in the prolonged shootout, Burguan said. He said both suspects were armed with assault rifles and handguns.

One police officer was wounded in the shooting, apparently from a ricochet, but was not seriously injured.

Agents from the Los Angeles field office of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives were sent to the scene of the morning shooting, according to the federal agency. Officials from the FBI were also dispatched.

Late Wednesday afternoon, an FBI spokesman said the shooting had not been determined to be an act of terrorism, but it was being explored as a possibility. Agents from Homeland Security Investigations and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives also responded to the shooting.

The Inland Regional Center has nearly 670 staff members and provides services to more than 30,200 people with developmental disabilities and their families in San Bernardino and Riverside counties.

As the shooting investigation unfolded, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department issued a reminder that people can take steps to try to protect themselves in an active-shooter situation. The department has a website and video available with tips at activeshooter.lasd.org.

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