First Responder Shares Account of San Bernardino Elementary School Shooting

"When I went into the classroom I could still smell the gunpowder," he said.

An officer who was one of the first on the scene at the tragic San Bernardino elementary school shooting Monday was sharing his first-person account Wednesday.

The original call went out as "shots fired, possible active shooter" from the school.

For Officer Rob Snyder and the other first responders, it brought back horrific memories of the terror attack 16 months ago at the Inland Regional Center.

But he said they pushed that out of their minds to focus on this new emergency.

Responding quickly from another call nearby, Snyder threw on his armored tactical before entering North Park Elementary School.

Law enforcement personnel already inside directed him to classroom B-1 where Cedric Anderson opened fire on his wife, Karen Smith, and the two children standing behind her.

"When I went into the classroom I could still smell the gunpowder," he said.

With the first team of officers entering the classroom, Snyder saw a man and woman lifeless on the floor and a boy not far away.

"We saw that the child was still breathing, although he had significant injuries," he said. "We just needed to get him out of that scene so that we could provide care as quickly as we could."  Snyder asked another officer to carry the boy outside and accompanied him. 

It was a multi-agency response.  The San Bernardino County Sheriff's Dept provided air support, and its SWAT team was first to arrive.

Police SWAT Commander Lt. Rich Lawhead was just pulling up to the incident command when he saw the officer carrying out the wounded boy.

"I needed to get my victims out of their quick," Lawhead said, prioritizing the securing of the playground so that a Sheriff's helicopter could land.

The victim was 8-year-old Jonathan Martinez, beloved on campus for his enthusiasm and outgoing personality.

Police believe the gunman was aiming for teacher Karen Smith, his estranged wife, but one of the 10 rounds he fired struck Jonathan.

"At that point I did not know how many total victims we had. I stayed with the child to provide what medical aid I could in the helicopter on the way to the hospital," Snyder, an EMT with paramedic training, said.

His wounds were too severe and the emergency room medical team could not save him.

"It was hard for us. I have two of my own," Snyder said. "My boy is not much older than the boy I tried to help."

Snyder has seen many tragedies in his 17 years on the force. More than a year ago, he responded to the San Bernardino terror attack claimed the lives of 14 and left 22 wounded.

He knows how to stay focused during emergencies, but he cannot escape the heartache.

"Incidents like this have got to stop," he said. "We do need to stay focused on doing our job. I realized after I left the hospital -- that's when all the emotion hit me."

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