In wake of San Bernardino school shooting, community organizes vigil

Tuesday, April 11, 2017
San Bernardino community holds vigil in wake of shooting
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San Bernardino community members held vigils to honor the victims who lost their lives in a shooting at North Park Elementary School on Monday, April 10, 2017.

SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. (KABC) -- An impromptu candlelight vigil was organized Monday night outside North Park Elementary School, where students and faculty gathered to remember Karen Smith, the special education teacher shot and killed by her estranged husband in a classroom.

"She was nice and she would help people who need help," said Destiny Russell, who knew Smith.

MORE: Wife left San Bernardino gunman after he showed "other side"

The memorial was organized by community members. Down the street, Our Lady of the Assumption Church held a prayer service.

"Sometimes, all we can do is cry," a pastor told grieving congregants.

Many who came out to honor Smith were elementary school students, close in age to the special education kids shot in their classroom.

"Tragedy brings out San Bernardino in a spirit of unity and love," said Pastor Ernie Caballos.

MORE: How adults, children can cope with trauma

Police say 53-year-old Calvin Anderson walked into the classroom of his estranged wife Monday and opened fire without saying a word.

He killed Smith, then turned the gun on himself.

"I heard what was like a booming noise," said Roselyn Hernandez, a student at North Park Elementary.

Two children who happened to be standing behind their teacher were also hit. In the frantic moments afterwards, both students were airlifted to local hospitals.

A 9-year-old survived surgery, but 8-year-old Jonathan Martinez did not.

MORE: Children, parents embrace in emotional reunions after San Bernardino shooting

Investigators say Anderson did follow school policy when he signed in at the front desk of North Park Elementary, saying he had something to drop off for his wife.

The superintendent said it may be time to re-evaluate that policy.

"We hope that in the future our policies and procedures continue to strengthen. Our number-one commitment is to our families, which is the safety of our children," said Dr. Dale Marsden.

The San Bernardino City Unified School District has set up support services at Del Vallejo Middle School on Lynwood Drive in San Bernardino so parents and students who need help coping with Monday's traumatic experience can receive aid from counselors.

PHOTOS: San Bernardino elementary school shooting

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Police officers investigate outside North Park School after a fatal shooting at the elementary school, Monday, April 10, 2017, in San Bernardino, California.
AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu