San Bernardino recalls terror attack with silence, speakers
Exactly a year to the moment that a pair of shooters unleashed a terrorist attack on San Bernardino, a bell rang 14 times Friday at the city’s Inland Regional Center in honor of the people who died there. “We will never forget that day or the victims of this senseless act of violence. We strive to move forward and search for the good that is in us all,” said Lavinia Johnson, the center’s executive director.
During the ceremony outside the center, employees of nearby businesses who sheltered people during the chaos were also thanked by Keith Nelson, the center’s chairman. In all, 14 people were killed and 22 wounded. Among those attending the ceremony was Zen Martinsen, 56, a clerical supervisor for San Bernardino County. While she didn’t know the victims who had gathered at the center for a county event that day, she said all county employees are like family. “This affects everybody and I think it’s just really important that terrorism doesn’t win,” she said. “We can’t let it win.”
The ceremony was just one of a series of events scheduled in the hardscrabble city of 216,000 people east of Los Angeles to mark the anniversary of the Dec 2, 2015, attack by husband-and-wife assailants on a holiday luncheon for county health employees. Investigators say the attackers were inspired by the Islamic State group. Earlier, cyclists conducted a 14-mile bike ride - one mile for each person who was killed.
Friday evening some 500 people gathered at California State University, San Bernardino’s, Caussoulis Arena for a somber memorial for the victims. Among the numerous speakers, which included the city’s police chief and mayor, was Julie Swann-Paez, who was gravely wounded by the shooters. Swann-Paez, whose pelvis was shattered by a bullet, spoke warmly, and sometimes humorously of each of those killed. Still, she choked up from time to time, while some in the audience wept.