As More Facts Emerge, San Jacinto Woman Confirmed As Youngest Of 14 Slain In SB Mass Shooting
Written by Trevor Montgomery
The victims of yesterdays mass slaying, have all been officially identified.
The tragic incident is being called the second-deadliest mass shooting in California’s history, after the 1984 San Ysidro McDonald’s massacre. The attack was the nations worst mass killing since the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.
Among the 14 confirmed dead from yesterday’s deadly shooting incident, 12 of the victims were residents of the Inland Empire. In addition to the 14 fatalities, 21 additional victims were injured during shooting rampage. 12 of the 14 dead were also reportedly employees of the county of San Bernardino.
Inland Regional Center, where the mass shooting occurred is located at 1363 South Waterman Ave. in the city of San Bernardino. IRC is a government-funded not-for-profit agency that provides services and programs to more than 30,000 people with developmental disabilities and their families throughout San Bernardino and Riverside counties.
Victims of San Bernardino Mass Shooting Identified
Isaac Amanios, 60, of Fontana
A family member called Isaac Amanios “an amazing father, brother, an amazing everything.”
As an environmental health inspector of the San Bernardino County Health Department, Amanios was at an office holiday party in the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino, where the shooting took place.
A husband and father of three, Amanios was the oldest of 14 people who were tragically killed.
In a brief conversation with a reporter from the Los Angeles Times, a woman who asked not to be named, said Amanios was survived by his wife and three adult children.
On Twitter, Nat Berhe, safety for the New York Giants, said Amanios was his cousin and, “a great human being.” Later Berhe said in followup Twitter post, “Just got word that one of my cousins was among the 14 killed yesterday, I’m so sick right now.”
Damian Meins, 58, of Riverside
Meins, 58, of Riverside and father of two, was an employee of San Bernardino County of Environmental Health Services. Meins worked for the County of Riverside for 28 years before retiring in 2010. He also worked as an Extended Care Coordinator at St. Catherine of Alexandria School in Riverside.
Meins’s wife was the principal at Sacred Heart School in Rancho Cucamonga. Friends describe Damian Meins as a kind, compassionate, loving man with a ready smile.
Nicholas Thalasinos, 52, of Colton
Juan Espinoza, 50, of Highland
Juan Espinoza has been identified as an inspector for the county health department, his daughter, Jerusalem, confirmed in a brief telephone interview. According to Jerusalem, the family had just received the news of Espinoza’s death this morning.
Espinoza is survived by his wife, a daughter and a son.
Bennetta Betbadal, 46, of Rialto
According to a statement released by her family, Bennetta Betbadal fled to America with her family to, “Escape Islamic extremism and the persecution of Christians following the Iranian Revolution.”
Betbadal was 18 at the time. Her first stop was New York but she eventually moved to California, where she met and married Arlen Vedehyou, a police officer.
According to information obtained by Matt Hamilton for the Los Angeles Times, Betbadal left her Rialto home Wednesday, eager to deliver a presentation to her colleagues in the San Bernardino County Department of Public Health at their meeting at the Inland Regional Center.
She would not return to her husband and their three children, 10, 12 and 15 years old.
Betbadal, who earned a degree in chemistry from Cal Poly Pomona, worked as a health inspector and also led a team of restaurant inspectors, according to Mark Russell, a friend who was acting as a spokesman for the family.
“It is the ultimate irony that her life would be stolen from her,” the family said in their statement, “by what appears to be the same type of extremism that she fled so many years ago.”
Harry Bowman, 46, of Upland
At Harry Bowman’s apartment in Upland on Thursday evening, a package was tucked neatly under the welcome mat on the concrete landing. It had been sent “priority express” by Bowman’s mother from York, Pa. The package was addressed to “Hal.”
Dr. Guillermo Saenz, a 29-year-old medical resident who lives across from Bowman’s apartment, said he didn’t know Bowman well, but had seen him on previous occasions with his daughter. “He would come out to the pool and teach her how to swim,” he said.
Bowman’s mother, Marion, told Alan Zarembo of the Los Angeles Times, her son had grown up in Pennsylvania and moved to California more than 15 years ago.
According to Marion, Bowman had two daughters.
Asked about the package she had recently sent her son, Marion told Zarembo it contained Christmas presents.
Shannon Johnson, 45, of Los Angeles
Shannon Johnson, a resident of Koreatown, rose every morning before dawn to make the long daily commute to his job in San Bernardino, where he worked as an inspector for the county’s Public Health Department for a decade.
Johnson lived with his girlfriend, “a longtime member” of Mayor Eric Garcetti‘s crisis response team, a mayoral staff member said in an email.
Larry Daniel Kaufman, 42, of Rialto
Larry Daniel Kaufman had always considered himself a free spirit. He often held up the grocery store checkout line because he talked to everyone he met.
He refused to get a driver’s license, saying he didn’t want to give up the daily rides to and from work from Ryan Reyes, his boyfriend of nearly three years. Reyes was the one who dropped him off Wednesday at his job in at the Inland Regional Center, where he trained developmentally disabled clients who worked there.
Throughout the morning the couple traded texts and photos. At 10:37 a.m., Kaufman sent what was to be his final — a picture of a friend he had met at a comic book conference.
Robert Adams, 40, of Yucaipa
Adams was an environmental health specialist with San Bernardino County. He and his wife grew up in the Inland Empire and were high school sweethearts, said family friend Jenni Kosse.
Adams and his wife had tried to have kids for some time, according to Kosse, and he adored their 20-month-old daughter, Savannah. He loved taking her to the park and uploaded new pictures of her to Facebook almost every night.
According to friends and family, Adams always looked out for others. He could sense when someone was angry or frustrated, Kosse said, and always had a kind word for those who needed one.
Michael Wetzel, 37, of Lake Arrowhead
Michael Raymond Wetzel was a father of six, children ranging in age from an infant to a teenager. Wetzel was an environmental specialist who was in a small meeting at the Inland Regional Center when the shooting began.
Celia Behar, acting as a spokesperson for the Wetzel family said, “They are very overwhelmed. There are six kids that have lost their father and Wetzel’s wife Renee is a stay-at-home mom. So they’ve also lost all of their financial support, and the kids are just finding out today.”
Tin Nguyen, 31 of Santa Ana
Tin Nguyen, 31, of Santa Ana, was born in Vietnam and she was planning to be married in 2017. According to her cousin, Calvin Nguyen, Tin wasn’t supposed to be working at the facility Wednesday, but may have stopped by for the holiday party.
It was around 11 p.m. when Calvin’s family heard news that Nguyen was in the same facility they had seen on the news. According to Calvin, numerous family members, including Nguyen’s mother, tried to contact Nguyen for hours throughout the day and evening, without success.
Later, after getting confirmation that Nguyen was among the confirmed dead, Calvin stated, “She was very intelligent, a good girl, takes care of mom and family. We very sad that we lose her,” he said. “Pray for us.”
Yvette Velasco, 27, of Fontana
Yvette Velasco was an environmental health specialist for the San Bernardino County Department of Public Health. Family members came forward after the shooting looking for information on Velasco, who had been at the Public Health Department’s holiday gathering.
Mindy Velasco, Yvette’s aunt, told the Los Angeles Times she called hospitals in the area, seeking any details on her niece’s condition. Velasco’s father reportedly went to several evacuee centers and police departments in search of his daughter.
“I’m fearing the worst … She would definitely be in contact after something like this,” Velasco said about his daughter.
After learning that Velasco was one of the more than a dozen victims, the young woman’s uncle gave a statement to NPR affiliate station, KPCC, “Our family appreciates the interest in Yvette. Yvette was an intelligent, motivated, and beautiful young woman, who was full of life and loved by all who knew her.”
Velasco’s uncle also stated that Velasco is survived by her mother, Marie, and father, Robert, as well as her three sisters.
Sierra Clayborn, 27, of Moreno Valley
Sierra Clayborn, a 2010 graduate of UC Riverside, worked as an environmental health specialist for San Bernardino County.
“I love hanging out with my friends and I love my blooming career in public and environmental health,” Clayborn recently wrote on her Facebook page. “I am dedicated to enjoying my new life, that God so graciously gave me, so I thank Him… and live life to the fullest. I love my life.”
“I love you more than you ever knew,” her sister Tamishia wrote Thursday morning in a Facebook post. “You were taken too soon. My heart is broken. I am completely devastated.”
Clayborn had frequently spoken about how much she loved her job. “She was dedicated to her profession, and she loved the opportunities to meet different people,” according to one friend.
Aurora Godoy, 26, of San Jacinto
According to her family, Aurora Godoy was known for her huge smile and an open heart. At 26-years-old, Godoy was the youngest of the confirmed fatalities from Wednesdays mass killing.
According to her husband, James, he and Godoy met in a 2003 Junior ROTC class at Carson High School, . The couple dated for about eight years before eloping in 2012. They later bought a home in San Jacinto. James said he and Aurora have a son, Alexander, who will turn 2-years-old next month.
Speaking by telephone recently with Matt Hamilton of the Los Angeles Times, Godoy praised his late wife as a devoted mother. Godoy began working as an office assistant in the county’s Department of Public Health just 11 months ago.
On the morning of the fatal shooting, Godoy had joined her co-workers for a meeting and Christmas celebration at the Inland Regional Center.
First Officer On Scene Describes “Unspeakable Carnage”
Lt. Mike Madden, a 24 year veteran of the San Bernardino Police Department, identified as one of the department’s administrative commanders, was reportedly the very first law enforcement officer to arrive at the Inland Regional Center. Lt. Madden arrived within minutes of the first frantic 911 calls about the shooting.
In a press conference the day after the fatal mass shooting Lt. Madden discussed everything he had seen and witnessed in the chaotic first minutes after the shooting began.
“Although we train for it, it’s something you’re never actually prepared for.” Lt. Madden explained. “I oversee dispatch. It’s one of my functions and responsibilities. When I got the call, I know my dispatchers. I know the tone of their voice. I know the severity of calls as they’re going out and I could hear it in our dispatchers’ voice; that this was actually happening. This was a real event…we have an active shooter going on in our city.”
Lt. Madden stated he was on his way to get lunch and was “nearby…less than a mile away.” Lt. Madden continued, “I realized when I was getting closer I was one of the very first units there. Myself and Officer Sandoval arrived almost simultaneously. The information was evolving so rapidly it was just by pure luck that I happened that I happened to pull up to the right location.”
About the role he initially played in responding to the threat, Lt. Madden explained, “We had every belief at that time that we had people still actively being shot inside of the building. My goal was to assemble an entry team and enter the building to engage the active shooter. That was the goal. That we wanted to get in there and we wanted to stop any further innocent people from being injured and possibly killed.”
Lt. Madden explained within two minutes of his and Officer Sandoval’s arrival, two other officers had arrived. The four initial responding officers immediately and without hesitation or consideration for their own safety, made entry into the building where the shooting had been reported.
As Lt. Madden’s four man team was trying to make their way into the building, a flood of terrified and panic-stricken employees was fleeing out of the building in the opposite direction.
Lt. Madden stated within moments of entering the building, “It was immediately evident that the reports we were getting 100% true.” Lt. Madden, whose voice was shaking during the press conference, emotionally explained, “There were victims who were…. clearly….. obviously….. deceased outside of the conference room.”
“As we entered into the conference room, the situation was surreal. It was something we prepare for… what you’re seeing, what you’re hearing, what you’re smelling…it was all of that and more,” said Lt. Madden.
“It was unspeakable, the carnage that we were seeing…the number of people who were injured and unfortunately already dead and the pure panic on the faces of those individuals that were still in need and needing to be safe. We got as many people out as we quickly could.”
According to Lt. Madden, one of the most difficult aspects of entering into the building while trying to locate the suspects was, “passing people we knew were injured and in need of assistance. But our goal at that time had to be trying to locate the shooters and deal with them, before we could get further assistance in for those people in need of medical attention.”
Lt. Madden explained that, “Thankfully, in a very short period of time we had a number of the other first responders that came in and were able to formulate tactical teams and then continue on with the search.”
Lt. Madden finished by saying, “People don’t call the police because they are having a great day, They call because there is tragedy going on. This was tragedy that I had never experienced in my career.”
Facts Beginning To Emerge
Numerous media outlets have reported 12 of the 14 killed were employees of the San Bernardino County Department of Public Health, the same agency one of the gunmen, 28-year-old Syed Rizwan Farook, worked for. The other shooter has been identified as 27-year-old Tashfeen Malik. Varying reports have indicated the couple was either married, involved in a “romantic relationship”, or engaged.
Despite the countless questions that could take months to be answered, if they ever even can all be answered, many facts are beginning to emerge about the couple.
Over the course of several press conferences regarding this incident, Chief Jarrod Burguan of the San Bernardino Police Department, stated Farook was a US citizen, who was born in Chicago in 1987. Farooks parents were both born in Pakistan.
Chief Burguan confirmed Farook had visited Saudi Arabia, at least one or two times in 2014, reportedly in order to meet Maliks parents. Farook later brought Malik home with him to the United States in 2014 under a K-1 Visa that was issued to Malik.
A K-1 visa is typically issued to the fiancé or fiancée of a United States citizen, allowing that person to legally enter the United States for the purpose of marrying. A K-1 visa requires a foreigner to marry his or her U.S. citizen petitioner within 90 days of entry. With a K-1 Visa, if the couple fail to marry within that 90 day period, the person with the visa is required to depart the United States within 30 days of the visa’s expiration.
An Angry Exchange At A Christmas Party
Possibly Preceded The Fatal Attacks
The day of the shooting spree was meant to be an easy and enjoyable day for Farook and his coworkers for the San Bernardino County Department of Public Health. The day started out as a training session which went until around lunch time.
After a break for lunch, the meeting was scheduled to transition into the employees annual holiday party. Farook reportedly attended the previous years event, without incident. According to police sources, there were approximately 100 people invited to the planned event and approximately 80 people were actually in attendance at the time of the shooting.
Farook’s coworkers reported he had been quiet during the training portion of the event and many noticed when the group was finishing their morning training session Farook left abruptly, leaving his coat, just before a group photo was to be taken. Some witnesses reported an argument occurred before Farook’s sudden departure. In later press conferences, Farook was described to have left the party, “under circumstances that were described as angry.”
Just before returning to the party, Farook and Malik left their six-month-old daughter with Farook’s mother, saying they were going to a doctor’s appointment.
At just before 11:00 a.m., two suspects , later identified as Farook and Malik, burst into the conference room and opened fire on the party-goers. Farook and Malik were reportedly wearing black tactical outfits and ski masks; and were armed with assault-style rifles. Witnesses said during the shooting incident, in spite of his mask, they immediately recognized Farook as one of the shooters by his voice and build.
According to Chief Burguan, the couple fired between 65 and 75 bullets during the shooting rampage and left behind at least one remote-controlled explosive device in the building that failed to detonate.
During the evacuation of the medical center and offices, law enforcement officers had to risk their lives going door to door, office to office, during their search for the suspects as well as while searching for the injured victims.
One of those evacuations was caught on cell phone video taken by Gabi Flores, a customer services coordinator at the Inland Regional Center. During that video, an as of yet unidentified sheriff deputy is heard reassuring terrified victims and witnesses, “It’s OK. Everyone try and relax. I’ll take a bullet before you do, that’s for damn sure. Just be cool, OK?”
Based on the initial investigation into the incident by the San Bernardino Police Department and other assisting agencies, The FBI and the Los Angeles Police Department Counter-Terrorism Unit were mobilized and assisted the local agencies as they worked to first identify and then locate the shooters.
By the morning following the deadly attack, the FBI had taken over the investigation due to the equipment used, Farook’s recent travel to the Middle East and one of the perpetrators potentially having contacts with Islamist extremist views. From almost the very beginning, the incident was treated as a counter-terrorism investigation.
Details Begin To Emerge About Shooter, Farook Rizwan Syed
Farook grew up in Riverside, California, and attended La Sierra High School, graduating one year early in 2004. Farook later attended California State University, San Bernardino, receiving a bachelor’s degree in environmental health in either 2009 or 2010. Farook had been an employee of San Bernardino county for the past five years.
Coworkers described Farook as generally quiet and polite and many of them have stated to investigators they had not noticed anything unusual prior to the attack.
According to his father and coworkers, Farook was a devout Muslim, who in recent months had begun to grow out his beard and became more passionate and outspoken about his Muslim faith. According to a statement on Thursday by a U.S. intelligence official, Farook had recently been in contact with a number of known Islamic extremists on social media.
Farook And Malik Make Their Last Stand
During a Pursuit And Gun Battle With Police
Approximately four hours after the initial shooting incident at the Inland Regional Center began, police were preparing to conduct a follow-up investigation at a residence rented by the Farook and Malik in the city of Redlands. Some reports indicate as law enforcement officers neared the residence, they spotted the couple inside their rented black SUV.
Before police could contact the couple, they fled the area at a high rate of speed; leading pursuing officers on a short but dramatic vehicle pursuit. During the pursuit, Malik shot at pursuing officers through the rear window of the rented SUV as Farook drove. Malik also reportedly threw at least one dummy pipe bomb at pursuing officers in their effort to elude capture.
After the SUV was stopped or became disabled less than two miles away from the original shooting, the couple continued to exchange gunfire with police from inside their vehicle on East San Bernardino Boulevard.
Within moments of the wild ensuing shootout, an officer on-scene requested a BearCat tactical vehicle and medical assistance for a wounded officer. A request was also made for a S.W.A.T. team to respond to the location. During those radio transmissions, numerous shots can be heard being fired in rapid succession.
According to Burguan, the couple reportedly had 1,400 rounds for the two semi-automatic rifles they carried and 200 rounds of 9mm ammunition for the two handguns they had with them at the time of the shootout.
The gun battle between the two suspects and law enforcement officers lasted nearly three minutes before both suspects were killed. According to Chief Burguan, during the pursuit and subsequent gun battle, the couple fired close to 100 rounds at police, with law enforcement officers from multiple agencies returning fire, shooting nearly 400 rounds at the couple and their vehicle.
After the conclusion of the shootout, law enforcement officers focus shifted to a townhouse in the city of Redlands, just a few miles from where the initial shooting incident occurred. Using a bomb robot to enter the townhouse, investigators reportedly found an additional 2,000 rounds of 9 mm ammunition handgun ammunition, 2,500 .223 caliber rounds for the couples’ two rifles and twelve pipe bombs.
The details emerged as investigators continue to try to piece together and determine whether the rampage that left 14 people dead and 21 injured was an act of terrorism, an incident of workplace violence or a combination of the two.
Numerous terrorism experts have since stated it is strongly believed Farook and Malik targeted the holiday party as a so-called, “soft target”, with many believing the couple’s intention all along was to draw in as many potential victims as possible in the initial attack, with the intention of following up with a second, more deadly attack.
Although that theory has not yet been proven, the fact the couple left behind thousands of rounds of ammunition as well as more than a dozen pipe bombs has left many high-ranking law enforcement and counter-terrorism officials believing the attack at the Inland regional Center was just the beginning of what the couple had planned.
On Thursday evening, one day following the mass shooting, 1,000’s of mourners came together at the San Manuel Stadium for a candlelight vigil held in memory and honor for those slain and injured.
Countless experts have stated that despite the number of fatalities and wounded, there is no doubt the death toll would have been far greater, were it not for the law enforcement officers who worked this case from the moment it began until the confirmation had been received that both known suspects were deceased and no longer a threat.
Law Enforcement Radio Traffic of entire chaotic final police shootout and officer down (11/99) with Farook and Malik.