security guard

‘There's a Shooter at Work': Families React to Mass Shooting

Fourteen people were killed and another 17 injured when gunfire erupted at the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino.

Luis Gutierrez could hear screaming while on a call with his wife, who saw a gunman with a rifle as she and colleagues barricaded themselves in a room in a San Bernardino, California, social services center on Wednesday.

Gutierrez said his immediate reaction was to drive over to the building, where his wife was a coordinator at the center for the developmentally disabled.

"I just couldn't drive," he said. "I didn't know what was going on. All I heard was, 'There's a shooter at work.'"

Gutierrez said his wife and her colleagues had barricaded themselves on the third floor of the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino, where gunmen opened fire during a holiday party, killing 14 and wounding 17 others in the worst U.S. mass shooting since 2012. She could see an armor-clad gunman dressed in black and carrying a "big gun."

Police identified the two suspects as 28-year-old Syed Rizwan Farook, who worked with county's health department for five years, and his 27-year-old wife or fiancee, Tashfeen Malik. Both were wearing military garb and armed with assault rifles and handguns. They were killed in a shootout with officers.

Gutierrez said his wife and her co-workers pushed desks up against a door in an effort to prevent the gunman from coming in. According to Gutierrez, his wife could see the gunman outside through a window. Gutierrez later learned that his wife was OK.

Melinda Rivas said a co-worker came down the hall screaming. She and others hid in a conference room. Rivas called her twin children, telling them she was OK and would check in regularly. When police instructed the group to leave the conference room, they were too afraid.


Get Los Angeles's latest local news on crime, entertainment, weather, schools, COVID, cost of living and more. Here's your go-to source for today's LA news.

$20K Offered to Help Solve Slaying of Ex-NBA Player's Dad in Compton

As LAUSD Workers Strike, Here's What Happened in 2019's Walkout

"We were all still scared to leave with our hands up, not knowing what would happen when we left the building," she said. "Two gunmen came in and opened fire on everybody, just started shooting everybody, taking lives of innocent people and nobody knows why. They didn’t say anything."

Kevin Ortiz, 24, was shot in the attack, but he called both his wife of two weeks and his father to tell them he was alive, according to the Los Angeles Times.

"Kevin said he had been shot three times and that he was in pain but he was all right," his 23-year-old wife, Dyana Ortiz, told the Times. "Then he said, 'I love you' and I said, 'I love you.'"

Joseph Bruni, a former security guard for the facility, heard the dispatch of the shooting and rushed over to help. He said he saw a car driving frantically and people "running all over the place, trampling all over each other, pretty much mayhem."

"Everybody was being escorted out of the building, running frantically," Bruni said, adding that the facility typically has up to 10 unarmed guards, a high number for a building of its type. "With all this stuff going on, I definitely think it had to be part of a terrorist attack. That's my gut feeling."

Ryan Reyes told NBC4 about the horrifying moment when he heard his boyfriend had been shot in the arm. His boyfriend, Daniel Kaufman, usually gets off work at 1 p.m., and when Reyes still hadn't heard from him, he became worried.

"It's all been a blur," Reyes said. "My sister texted me about somebody shooting up the Inland regional center — isn't that where Daniel works?"

His heart sank as he realized that his boyfriend might be in the building.

"I immediately freaked out, tried to call him, text him," Reyes said.

He reached out to the company where his boyfriend works, Pathway, but no one could provide any information.

"Nobody had heard from Daniel," Reyes said.

Reyes said his boyfriend had been outside the conference room windows when gunfire broke out. He was trying to determine where Kaufman was being treated, as local hospitals were not immediately releasing patients' identities.

"This is a tragic and heartbreaking moment for the disabled community in California. Our thoughts and prayers are with the shooting victims and their loved ones and the first responders who are doing everything possible to make this situation safe," said Nelly Nieblas, a spokeswoman for the California Council on Developmental Disabilities, in a statement.

Officials advised those who use Regional Center services throughout the state to consider postponing visits until the incident was resolved and authorities verified there was no threat to people with disabilities or their support staff.

"We are working with federal, state and local officials to ensure that all who have been affected are safe," Nieblas said in a statement. 

Politicians reacted to the shooting on Wednesday, expressing condolences, outrage and disbelief.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims' families and everyone affected by the brutal attack," Gov. Jerry Brown said in a statement.

According to the governor's office, Wednesday's Capitol Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony was canceled, even though the tree was still lit. Capitol flags were lowered to half-staff.

Heather Navarro contributed to this report.

Contact Us