Creating Christmas for Children of San Bernardino Shooting Victim

For just a moment, losing their mother wasn't the only thing on the minds of 12-year-old Colin and 10-year-old Ethan Bet-Badal. That's because for just a moment, city firefighters and police from Rialto rallied around them to help create the Christmas their parents had been planning.

"They are part of our family, too," says Rialto Fire Chief Mat Fratus. "As we start to come through the other side of this and we see the impact on the families, we want to show them we have them in our hearts and our minds."

The two boys got the chance to go on a shopping spree at the Target in Redlands, sponsored by the Firefighters Union, Police Department, County of San Bernardino, St. Catherine of Siena Church and Target.

"Here's what's on the list ... Gaming headset with an NBA 2k Michael Jordan edition and dual shot controller!" Colin joyously proclaimed just before he and his younger brother went inside.

Ethan made sure to include their older sister, who couldn't attend the event because of an illness.

"I want to get my sister a microphone and a big teddy bear like five or four teddy bears," he says.

Their mother, Bennetta Bet-Bedal, 46, was one of 14 people who were killed Dec. 2 when a radicalized Islamic married couple bent on terror fired assault rifles at a health center during a holiday gathering in San Bernardino in the worst terrorist attack on U.S. soil since 9-11, authorities said.

Dr. Michael Neeki, the city of Rialto's medical director and a trauma surgeon at Arrowhead Regional Medical Center was one of the first trauma surgeons on site that day and joined the entourage at Target to offer his support.

"I think that each city should do the same thing for these families," he says. "There has to be a way forward. There has to be something positive coming from this tragedy. And this is one of those."

Neeki says he met the boys' mother, Benetta Bet-Badal, and says they shared a common history — they both left Iran as Christians, looking for a better life in the United States.

"This is pretty much what America is about," Dr. Neeki says. "We are generous. We are supportive. We love our families and cities and environment. It shows all the positive things of this country."

The family's priest, Father Stephen Porter, spoke briefly with the boys before their big adventure, reminding them of how wonderful a mother they had.

"I know it's sad for you, but one day, a long time from now, you'll see her again," he says.

Contact Us