SAN BERNARDINO, CALIFORNIA – One of the first officers saw “pure panic” on the faces of the injured employees as he entered the scene on Wednesday’s mass shooting.
“I was shocked with the carnage we were seeing…it isn’t something you’re prepared for,” said Lt. Mike Madden, a 24-year veteran of the force.
He described the scene as “surreal” and the reports of multiple dead and injured were evident and “100 percent true.”
Madden said the officers who entered the building were having difficulty to pass through the injured individuals and continued moving through the building.
“Our goal is to locate the shooters and deal with them and give further assistance to those who need medical attention,” he said.
Authorities described the mass shooting incident on Wednesday during a staff holiday party as planned “mission” as the husband and wife who carried out on the incident are wearing black tactical gear and carrying hundreds of rounds of ammunition and “sprayed the room with bullets.”
Police identified the man as Syed Rizwasn Farook, 28, and his wife, Tashfeen Malik, 27. They fired 65 to 75 rounds of additional ammunition in the SUV they arrived in, and another 3,000 rounds, 12 pipe bombs, and bomb-making materials at their house in nearby Redlands, California.
The couple died at the Regional Island Centre, four hours after the attack. Followed by a furious shootout with police that saw officers unleash about 380 rounds of ammunition into the couple’s black, rented SUV.
The mass shooting occurred during a holiday work party for employees of the San Bernardino County Department of Public Health, who rented out the venue.
Farook attended the party, used to work as an environmental health specialist for the department, but slipped out for a while to return to his wife.
The couple left an explosive device – three rigged-together pipe bombs with a remote-control detonating device which apparently malfunctioned. Other bombs and ammunition were found at the house rented by the couple in Redlands where they also planned out the attack.
“Based on what we’ve seen and how they were equipped, we think that they are at some degree of planning that went into this,” San Bernardino Police Chief Jarrodd Burguan said.
“It’s pretty obvious that there was a mission here. We know that. But we don’t know their motive in the incident. We’re unsure if this was the intended target or there’s something that triggered them to do this,” said David Bowdich, assistant director of the FBI’s Los Angeles office.
Farook used to work in the county health department for five years, inspecting restaurants, bakeries, and public swimming pools. He monitors the chlorine levels, screen hand washing facilities, and assures the cleanliness of food facilities.
U.S. President Barack Obama said the Wednesday’s shooting incident was related to terrorism but the authorities still don’t know the exact motive.