SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. - A local pastor described how he rallied fellow pastors and other community members to help in any way they could following the fatal shooting at North Park Elementary School.
Pastor Robert Cuencas, of The Way World Outreach Church in San Bernardino, said he and other pastors who belong to the group, Pastors United, have a strong relationship with San Bernardino law enforcement and city leaders.
That's why when the shooting occurred, Cuencas and other members of Pastors United began receiving numerous texts and phone calls about the shooting.
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Karen Smith, a North Park Elementary special education teacher, was fatally shot by her estranged husband, who then shot and killed himself. Two children, who happened to be standing near their teacher, were also hit.
A 9-year-old survived surgery, but 8-year-old Jonathan Martinez did not.
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Cuencas said he and other pastors drove immediately to North Park Elementary School and did their best to help parents and students in any way they could.
"It was a tough day, but we've seen the city come together once again," Cuencas said.
Students were evacuated from North Park Elementary and taken to Cajon High School. When the students were released, staff, school volunteers and members from Cuencas' church were seen giving children high-fives to lift their spirits.
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Cuencas said when North Park Elementary resumes in the next couple of days, The Way World Outreach Church will have a group of people at the school to assist the children in any way they can.
The pastor also said his church is opening up its building on Tuesday for parents who need childcare since North Park Elementary is expected to be closed for at least two days. If not for childcare, community members can just come to the church to be at a safe place, Cuencas said.
Cuencas also said his church will have prayer booths set up throughout San Bernardino.
The Way World Outreach Church
4680 Hallmark Parkway
San Bernardino, CA 92407