SAN BERNARDINO, California — As many as three gunmen believed to be wearing military-style gear opened fire Wednesday at a Southern California social services center, killing at least 14 people and wounding more than a dozen, authorities said.
Burguan said the number of people killed and wounded were preliminary estimates that could change. Authorities said 10 of the 14 people wounded were taken to hospitals in critical condition.
Hours after the attack at the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino, local police engaged in a shootout with what they believed to be the attackers’ vehicle, a black SUV.
“Suspects are down, one officer wounded. Details still unfolding,” tweeted San Bernardino police chief Jarrod Burguan.
Police were hunting for up to three gunmen following the attack, and Sergeant Vicki Cervantes told reporters one may still be on the loose.
“I believe there is still possibly a suspect outstanding,” she said.
Cervantes said that a police officer suffered a non life-threatening injury during the shootout.
A body and what appeared to be a pool of blood could be seen near a bullet-riddled SUV that was surrounded by dozens of police vehicles.
Police swarmed the residential neighborhood with officers, guns drawn, as residents were told to stay in their homes with the doors locked.
The shooting — less than three weeks after the Paris attacks that left 130 people dead — immediately raised the specter of terrorism. Police shed no light on a motive. President Barack Obama was briefed on the attack by his homeland security adviser.
Witnesses said several people locked themselves in their offices, desperately waiting to be rescued by police, after gunfire erupted at the Inland Regional Center, which serves people with developmental disabilities.
The attack took place in a conference area where the San Bernardino County Department of Public Health was holding a banquet, said Maybeth Field, president and CEO of the social services center. She said the building houses at least 25 employees as well as a library and conference center.
FBI agents and other law enforcement authorities converged on the center and searched for the shooter or shooters.
As the manhunt went on, stores, office buildings and at least one school were locked down in the city of 214,000 people about 60 miles east of Los Angeles, and roads were blocked off.
Triage units were set up outside, and people were seen being wheeled away on stretchers. Others walked quickly from a building with their hands up. They were searched by police before being reunited with loved ones.
Terry Petit said his daughter works at the center, and he got a text from her saying she was hiding in the building after hearing gunshots. Petit choked back tears as he read the texts for reporters outside the center. He said she wrote: “People shot. In the office waiting for cops. Pray for us. I am locked in an office.”
Marcos Aguilera’s wife was in the building when the gunfire erupted. He said a shooter entered the building next to his wife’s office and opened fire.
“They locked themselves in her office. They seen bodies on the floor,” Aguilera told KABC-TV, adding that his wife was able to get out of the building unharmed.
Obama decried what he called the “pattern” of mass shootings in the United States and reiterated his call for tougher gun controls.
“The one thing we do know is that we have a pattern now of mass shootings in this country that has no parallel anywhere else in the world,” Obama told CBS News.
“There are some steps we could take, not to eliminate every one of these mass shootings, but to improve the odds that they don’t happen as frequently.”
Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton tweeted: “I refuse to accept this as normal. We must take action to stop gun violence now.”