Sunday, September 24, 2023
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Victims Mourned as Shooting Site Reopens

ONTARIO, Calif. (CN) - Hundreds of San Bernardino county employees attended a private memorial on Monday for the 14 county workers killed in a mass shooting at the Inland Regional Center last month.

The social service facility also opened its doors to employees for the first time since the Dec. 2 massacre.

Hundreds of county employees lined the Citizens Business Bank Arena in Ontario on Monday afternoon in a private memorial service also attended by California Gov. Jerry Brown, California Attorney General Kamala Harris and former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani.

Giuliani elicited one of the strongest audience responses of the afternoon with a statement similar to ones he offered after the 9/11 attacks.

"Come to San Bernardino and spend money and tell the terrorists, 'Screw you!'" he said.

County worker Syed Rizwan Farook and his wife, Tashfeen Malik killed 14 and injured 22 at the Inland Regional Center on Dec. 2 before being killed themselves in a shootout with police. Enrique Marquez, friend and one-time neighbor of Farook has been arrested and charged with conspiring to give material support to the couple.

Pastor Rick Warren of Saddleback Church in Orange County led the event, telling mourners to stay strong and not let bitterness consume them.

"It doesn't hurt those who attacked our people. It doesn't hurt them at all," Warren said. "It only hurts you. It's like drinking poison and hoping it kills your enemy."

He added, "It will eat you alive. It's the government's job, it's law enforcement's job to administer justice."

On her way into the event, eligibility worker Patience LaSalle, 36, of Ontario, said that she worked with the sister of Yvette Velasco, 27, who was killed in the shooting.

"A few other people I know have been hit by this very personally," LaSalle said in the arena's parking lot. "I just wanted to show my condolences."

LaSalle said that attending the event was "kind of scary" but that she felt it was something she had to do. She added she had been "10 times more alert" since the shooting.

"It's coming to this event thinking that you just have no idea what could be being plotted," LaSalle said, noting that some of her colleagues had been hesitant to come because of safety concerns.

All county employees were screened as they entered the secured event.

Employees of the Inland Regional Center returned to their building on Monday, which provides services for autistic children and mentally disabled adults. For many employees, it was the first time they had visited the site of the attack aside from the few who had returned in the interim to fetch personal belongings.

Marquez, the only person arrested in connection with the attack, is scheduled to enter a plea on Wednesday morning in Riverside Federal Court.

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