According to Reuters, gunfire erupted at a holiday party at a social services agency in San Bernardino, California, on Wednesday, leaving 14 people dead and wounding 17 others, sparking an intense manhunt for up to three suspects, authorities said.
San Bernardino Police Chief Jarrod Burguan said in a televised news briefing three hours after Wednesday’s shooting that the suspects fled the building and were believed to have made their getaway in a dark-colored sports utility vehicle.
With as many as three gunmen at large, authorities ordered a security “lockdown” of all local schools, as well as city and county buildings, and area hospitals were placed on alert, Burguan said.
Burguan said he knew no possible motive behind the attack, which unfolded at about 11 a.m. at the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino, about 60 miles (100 km) east of Los Angeles.
“We have no information at this point that this is terrorist-related, in the traditional sense that people may be thinking,” he added. “Obviously, at the minimum, we have a domestic-type terrorist-type situation that occurred here.”
He said the suspects were armed with rifles.
“They came prepared to do what they did as if they were on a mission,” Police Chief Burguan said.
A San Bernardino police spokeswoman said: “We have suspects at large, but we have absolutely no idea where they are.”
caiif mass shooting: police chief confirms the county group meeting was targeted, not the health center.
— Rick Serrano (@RickSerranoLAT) December 2, 2015
According to LA Times, the shooting took place in a large conference room on the grounds of the Inland Regional Center, which serves people with developmental disabilities in Riverside and San Bernardino counties.
A black sport-utility vehicle was seen fleeing from the office complex where the shooting occurred. Shortly before 3 p.m., police began pursuing a black sport-utility vehicle in San Bernardino, though it was not immediately clear if the car chase was linked to the attack.
Authorities confirmed that a suspect had been shot in connection with the car chase, but it remained unclear if the pursuit was linked to the attack.
TV footage showed dozens of heavily armed police officers approaching the SUV, and officers in tactical gear could be seen stalking through a San Bernardino neighborhood.
Marybeth Feild, the center’s board president and CEO, said the San Bernardino County Public Health Department rented the conference room and they were hosting a banquet.
The room, which holds as many as 200 people, was decorated for a holiday party, according to Feild.
The motive for the attack remains unclear.
US President Barack Obama extended his condolences to the victims and their families and said it was clear there was a pattern of mass shootings in the United States that had no parallel anywhere else in the world.
As he has done after other massacres in recent months, Mr. Obama emphasized the need for tighter gun control and said bipartisan action was needed.
“We have a no-fly list where people can’t get on planes, but those same people who we don’t allow to fly could go into a store right now in the United States and buy a firearm and there’s nothing we can do to stop them,” he told CBS.
“That’s a law that needs to be changed.”
“We should never think this is just something that happens in the ordinary course of events, because it doesn’t happen, with the same frequency, in other countries.”