First responders recall San Bernardino terror attack 1 year later

Rob McMillan Image
Monday, November 28, 2016
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A year ago this week, first responders charged into a mass-shooting scene in San Bernardino, determined to help victims and stop the attackers.

SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. (KABC) -- Friday marks one year since what was then the worst terrorist attack in the United States since Sept. 11, 2001 - the shooting rampage in San Bernardino that left 14 dead and 22 injured.

First responders recalled the scene and their own emotions that day - not knowing exactly what they were charging into, but nonetheless determined to help the victims and stop the attackers.

The attacks on Dec. 2, 2015 were carried out by Syed Farook and Tashfeen Malik, a married couple who used semi-automatic pistols and rifles to kill and wound people in the Inland Regional Center. The victims had gathered at a banquet room for a staff training event and holiday party for the San Bernardino County of Department of Public Health, where Farook worked as a health inspector. After the shootings, the couple fled the scene and were killed in a shootout with law enforcement.

San Bernardino police detective Donny Sawyer, motor officer Brett Murphy and patrol officer Shaun Sandoval were among the first to arrive on scene.

Although they didn't know it at the time, they entered the building through the same doors the shooters did.

"You immediately heard the fire alarm going off, screaming, crying moans," Sandoval recalled.

As they tried to clear the rooms there was fear - not knowing if the shooters were still there, ready to attack.

"Once we were searching the building my biggest thought was, whoever is in here is going to jump out in one of these hallways and we're going to be in a shootout," said Murphy, with the San Bernardino police.

Over the past year, first responders have seen an incredible show of support, not only in San Bernardino but from thousands of miles away.

"I remember reading letters from school kids, elementary-age kids, that wrote in to the department and gave us little goody bags," Sandoval said. "And to this day I maintain that goody bag with the letter from the kids, because those are things you always remember and always take with you in life."