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Thursday, 3 December 2015

BREAKING NEWS: CALIFORNIA , USA - At least 14 killed in shooting rampage at Calif. social services facility as police kill two suspects after hunt

Police say two suspects, one male and one female, are dead after the shooting at a Southern California social services center.

The deaths came after up to three gunmen on Wednesday opened fire in a social services facility in San Bernardino, California, killing at least 14 people and injuring 17 others, authorities said, adding that one suspect was in custody and another was possibly still at large.

San Bernardino Police Chief Jarrod Burguan said at Wednesday evening press conference that the two people who were dead were wearing "combat-style clothing" and were both armed with assault rifles and handguns.

There was no mention as yet of a possible motive.

Federal and local law enforcement authorities converged on the Inland Regional Center and searched for the shooter or shooters. Stores, office buildings and at least one school were locked down in the city, which is home to 214,000 people and is about 60 miles east of Los Angeles.

Marybeth Field, the president and CEO of the center, said the shooting happened in a conference area where the San Bernardino County Department of Public Health was having a banquet.

Rescue crews tend to the injured outside the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino, California, after a mass shooting on Dec. 2, 2015.

Triage units were set up in the area, and people were seen being wheeled away on gurneys. Others walked quickly from the scene, led by authorities.

The San Bernardino Police Department initially said it was looking for one to three suspects. Police later said shots were fired and a suspect was down, injured and taken into custody near a dark-colored SUV a few miles away from the facility. However, it wasn't immediately clear if the suspect was related to the deadly shooting attack. One officer was hit by gunfire and hospitalized but the injuries didn't appear to be life threatening, police said.

Police were conducting a house-to-house search in the area where the suspect was apprehended and completed the search early in the evening, when the "shelter-in-place" warning to residents was lifted, according to police.

"This is the first time we've seen it like this, on lockdown," Hector Guerrero, husband of an employee who works in the attacked facility, told Al Jazeera. "I don't think anything like this has happened in the Inland Empire." The term refers to the metropolitan area and surrounding region just east of Los Angeles.

The San Bernardino Sheriff's Office confirmed that there were at least 14 fatalities.

Law enforcement officials said at a news conference that they had yet to establish a motive for the shooting. "We do not know if this is a terrorist incident," said David Bowdich, the FBI assistant director in charge of the Los Angeles field office.

San Bernardino Police Chief Jarrod Burguan said all that was known about the shooters thus far is that "these people came prepared." They were carrying long guns instead of handguns, he said.

Courts and other public facilities in the area were shut down, and law enforcement officials stationed at "all the high-profile areas" near the site of the shooting, Sheriff John McMahon said.

Roughly 700 people emerged unharmed from the facility, and were questioned by police.

Cervantes told the LA Times that the suspect or suspects were heavily armed and possibly wearing body armor.

CBS had reported earlier that a bomb squad was also on the scene, trying to defuse what is believed to be an explosive device.

During the incident, people hid from the gunman or gunmen inside the facility. Terry Pettit, who spoke with KABC-TV, said he received text messages from his daughter that read, “Shooting at my work, people shot, in the office waiting for cops.”

Marcos Aguilera told KABC his wife works at an office next to the facility and said his wife saw a shooter enter the building and open fire. "They locked themselves in her office. They seen bodies on the floor," he said.

At a Shell gas station about a block from the site, manager Ana Fuentes said there was a flood of police activity in the area. "There's maybe, like, 150 cops going toward Hospitality Lane," she said, as sirens echoed in the background.

She said that she hasn't gotten any instructions to stay inside and that customers told her about the shootings at the center.

The center says on its website that it provides social services to people with developmental disabilities.

The facility has been the focus of recent complaints that its clients were not receiving all services requested or that some services were cut back without proper notice, said attorney Terri Keville of the law firm Davis Wright Tremaine.

The shooting comes less than a week after a man killed three people and wounded nine in a shooting rampage at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs, Colorado. In October a gunman killed nine people at a college in Oregon, and in June a white gunman killed nine black churchgoers in South Carolina.

President Barack Obama was briefed on the San Bernardino shootings. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton said on Twitter, "I refuse to accept this as normal. We must take action to stop gun violence now."

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