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Redlands, Calif., Residents Cope With Link To San Bernardino Shooters

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

The mass shooting in San Bernardino, Calif., has left many on edge as the FBI expands its investigation of Syed Farook and Tashfeen Malik, the husband and wife team who carried out last week's deadly attack. Dave Bowditch of the FBI says the Bureau still has a great deal of work ahead of them.

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DAVE BOWDITCH: This investigation is massive in scale. Everyone knows that. We've conducted between, I would say, well over 400 interviews by now of people around this city, and we'll continue to do as many interviews as necessary for this.

CORNISH: People in nearby Redlands are especially anxious after finding out their city was home to the shooters. As the FBI continues to dig into the couple's backgrounds, people in Redlands are struggling to understand how this could've happened in their backyard. Matt Guilhem of member station KVCR has this report.

MATT GUILHEM, BYLINE: Birds chirp, and people are out shopping along State Street, the quaint downtown boulevard in Redlands lined with boutiques and restaurants. The mostly affluent city has a small-town charm that has been deeply shaken. Nestled next to a pizza shop is Jane Myers' clothing store. The killer's connection to Redlands has her ill at ease.

JANE MYERS: I don't think I can process it. It's really, really difficult for me as a mother, as a business owner. I mean, I want to hug my children, but they're not here. They grew up in Redlands. I came here because it was such a safe place. I feel totally different today.

GUILHEM: Just up the street from Myers is the Patio Barbershop. It's been a town fixture for half a century. Outside, smoking a cigarette is owner Edward Varela.

EDWARD VARELA: You would never think it would happen out here 'cause there's really no traction for anything like that. But yeah, it hit us right at home, too. But there it is, black and white and right in front of you.

GUILHEM: But he says it may make sense that the killers set up the attack in Redlands.

VARELA: I can see that people would choose a place like Redlands to do stuff only because it's a quiet, little place. Nobody really bothers anybody out here.

GUILHEM: Just a mile from the Norman Rockwell scene of downtown Redlands is where the shooters lived. On the same quiet and innocuous street lives Drew Dixon. The Caltrans worker moved to the area about a year ago from Arizona.

DREW DIXON: I mean, before I came out here, I did my research. And I didn't want to be close to the big city, LA, or San Diego or anything like that. And I chose Redlands - I mean, very low crime rate. Like I said, people walk their dogs at night around here, you know what I mean? And it's that safe.

GUILHEM: Dixon says the attacks and revelation of the terrorists almost next door hasn't soured him on his new home.

DIXON: This is where I wanted to be, and this is still where I want to be. It's still - even after this, it's still going to be a great community.

GUILHEM: While Dixon sounds resolute, back on State Street, Jane Myers waivers.

MYERS: I've traveled all over the world. In my former job, I went to New York - I don't know - 16 times a year. I've never felt as unsafe as I feel now.

GUILHEM: She reflects that this weekend, the city went ahead with its Christmas parade as planned, and she brightens.

MYERS: I think we won't be scared very long. I think we will continue our lives, and we will not let them get us down. We can't.

GUILHEM: For NPR News, I'm Matt Guilhem in San Bernardino. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.