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California Neighborhoods Shaken After Mass Shooting Plays Out


This is a morning for more questions than answers. Police say two suspects opened fire on a holiday party in San Bernardino, Calif. They do not know why. All we have are scattered facts that raise more questions.


Some people who knew him give us a few facts about Syed Rizwan Farook. He was born in the United States, said to be Muslim. He worked with people at that holiday party, and it's not known if any of those facts indicate anything about his motive.

INSKEEP: We know a little about the other suspect, Tashfeen Malik. According to friends of the family, the two suspects were married. They had a six-month-old baby girl, who they left with a relative before leaving for the day yesterday. Their heavy weaponry and tactical gear cause police to suspect this shooting was not a sudden decision, but they haven't said what they think it was. For people in San Bernardino, the first question was about the safety of family and friends. Survivors and relatives reunited at the Hernandez Community Center, and KQED's Steven Cuevas was there.

STEVEN CUEVAS, BYLINE: Madeleine Ramos walked out of a computer room to get a lid for her coffee cup when shots rang out down the hallway.

MADELEINE RAMOS: When we entered the hallway, we heard, like, some gunshots or something like that. And we saw some people running towards the exit, and that's all I know.

CUEVAS: Ramos is a regular at the Inland Regional Center, where she gets help for a learning disability. As the sun set, relatives escorted her out the back entrance of a nearby community center that had become a makeshift reunification center. Ryan Reyes was there, too, to find out about his friend Daniel, a job trainer at the center. Reyes couldn't reach him. He'd heard a description about one of the dead. It sounded a lot like Daniel. Turns out he was shot, but just wounded and laid up at a local hospital.

RYAN REYES: And knowing that he's there all by himself because nobody knew that he was in the hospital - that's just been kind of devastating to me. And, yeah, so it's just been a real roller coaster.

CUEVAS: San Bernardino is no stranger to hard times. The Inland Regional Center serves a region slammed by the recession and housing meltdown. The city is crawling out of bankruptcy. Unemployment remains high. Social services can be hard to come by. Patrice Jernigan's daughter-in-law drives for miles from another city to get regular mental health counseling at the center.

PATRICE JERNIGAN: And so she goes out there because she's dealing with things in her mind. So I'm just glad that today was a day that she was not there. She called me on the phone. San Bernardino is in the process of trying to fix theirself (ph) up. They're trying to put things back together. This right here is not what they need.

CUEVAS: San Bernardino is a scrappy city, a former industrial town once home to big steel yards in a major military base. Those are long gone. It weathered those and other losses. Another resident told me it may take some time, but somehow, it'll survive this, too. For NPR News, I'm Steven Cuevas in San Bernardino. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.