SAN BERNARDINO , Calif. — Two suspects died in a gun battle with police Wednesday hours after authorities say they burst into a holiday party at a center for people with developmental disabilities and killed 14 people.
But it was unclear whether the furious shootout with the male and female suspects was the end of a daylong manhunt after the mass shooting at the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino.
An FBI raid was unfolding late Wednesday at an apartment in Redlands, where authorities were serving a search warrant connected to the shooting.
The violence began around 11 a.m. at the convention building at the Inland Regional Center where employees with the county health department were attending a holiday event. Witnesses said at least two shooters opened fire, killing 14 people.
Another 17 people were hurt — many wounded by bullets from automatic-style rifles, some injured in the panic to escape.
The shooters fled in a black SUV, prompting a huge police response in the area.
As the hours passed, the hunt for the suspects continued with a tip taking officers to a home about 10 miles away in Redlands.
When detectives followed up on it, a black SUV with Utah plates passed by slowly then sped up and raced off, a law enforcement official close to the investigation told CNN. A police car spotted it and took up pursuit.
There was a shootout, the official said. The male suspect shot out of the vehicle while the woman drove. The SUV stopped a quarter a mile later, as an officer returned fire.
A device that looked like a bomb also flew out of the vehicle, Meredith Davis with the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms and Explosives told CNN affiliate KCAL/KCBS. The SUV was racing back toward San Bernardino, she said.
Residents were stunned to hear the eruption of continuous gunfire. A barrage of bullets riddled the SUV’s windshield.
A third person who was caught running near the scene was detained, but police aren’t sure whether he was connected to either shooting.
Suspects dressed for assault
San Bernardino Police Chief Jarrod Burguan didn’t say how old the suspects were or physically describe them in detail. He told reporters they were armed with assault-style rifles and handguns.
A law enforcement official told CNN the rifles were AR-15s or similar style weapons.
The man and the woman were dressed in what Burquan said was “assault-style clothing,” describing it as “dark, kind of tactical gear.”
He wouldn’t say if he knew if they were related.
Witnessed text frightened messages
Hours after the shooting, the Inland Regional Center convention center was still an active scene. The bomb squad was working to determine whether they need to blow up two suspicious devices, one of which appeared to be a pipe bomb.
Survivors of the mass shooting told of hiding in offices, bathrooms and closets, texting their loved ones that they feared they were next to be shot.
In the moments after the initial bloodbath, SWAT teams had scoured the facility, unsure whether the shooters were still there and looking for people hiding from the horror.
Marcos Aguilera received a text from his wife who works at the Inland Regional Center.
“She heard the shots and crying,” he said. The situation became confusing when the fire alarm went off.
“Everyone was confused,” he said, relating his wife’s account.
A SWAT team eventually rescued his wife and two other co-workers. “When she exited the building, she said there were multiple bodies on the floor,” Aguilera told CNN.
The center’s executive director, Lavinia Johnson, told CNN that she believed the county’s Department of Public Health was having a holiday party.
Johnson said the fire alarm went off in her building, and people began to evacuate but then the order came to stay in place.
Later police came and took people out of their offices, marching them into the parking lot with their hands in the air.
San Bernardino is a city of just over 200,000 people 60 miles east of Los Angeles.
• CNN affiliate KABC showed images of the other shooting scene. The video showed a black SUV and a person on the ground.
• Marcos Aguilera received a text from his wife who works at the Inland Regional Center.
“She heard the shots and crying,” he said. The situation became confusing when the fire alarm went off. “Everyone was confused,” he said, relating his wife’s account. A SWAT team eventually rescued his wife and two other co-workers. “When she exited the building, she said there were multiple bodies on the floor,” Aguilera told CNN.
• The suspects were armed with long guns, Police Chief Jarrod Burguan told reporters. “These were people that came prepared. … They were armed with long guns, not hand guns,” he told reporters. Most of the victims were “centrally located in one area of the facility,” Burguan said. Police didn’t exchange gunfire with the shooters, he added.
• “At this point, I know one of your questions is going to be ‘Is this a terrorist incident?’ I will tell you right now we do not know if this is a terrorist incident,” David Bowdich, an assistant director for Los Angeles FBI’s office told reporters.
• The shootings were in the conference center at the Inland Regional Center, the center’s executive director, Lavinia Johnson, told CNN. She believes the county’s Department of Public Health was having a holiday party there.
Johnson said the fire alarm went off in her building, and people began to evacuate but then the order came to stay in place. Later police came and took people out of their offices.
• The three suspects are believed to be armed with AK-47-type weapons, a local law enforcement official told CNN.
• President Barack Obama restated his call for more gun control reforms in the wake of the mass shooting. Speaking to CBS News, Obama said Congress should act in a bipartisan manner to close loopholes, including one that allows people on the TSA no-fly list to legally purchase firearms
• Four adults have been transported to Loma Linda University Medical Center, and the hospital is expecting three more patients, hospital spokeswoman Briana Pastorino said. She did not describe the nature of the patients’ wounds. Arrowhead Regional Medical Center said one patient had been discharged and five were still getting treatment.
• The bomb squad found a suspicious package on the second floor of a building and determined it is “not normal,” a law enforcement source told CNN. They are going to handle it with a robot, the source added.
• A woman who works at a building where the shootings occurred texted her father: “Shooting at my work. People shot.” The father told CNN affiliate KABC his daughter told him 10 to 20 people were shot.
• The FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives were responding, agency representatives said.
• Wednesday’s shooting occurred at the Inland Regional Center, a facility for people with developmental disabilities. It is unclear how many people were at the facility at the time of the shooting.