Fourteen dead in mass shooting at Christmas party
Published 03/12/2015 | 02:30
Up to 14 people were killed and as many as 20 were wounded yesterday when at least one person opened fire at a Christmas party for the disabled in the southern Californian city of San Bernardino.
An armed stand-off was under way in the city last night after a shoot-out with police left the occupants of a black SUV - similar to one in which the gunmen were suspected to have fled - injured or dead.
A body could be seen on the road beside the vehicle, which had its windows shot out. It was not clear last night if the man was dead or had just been wounded.
Officers confirmed last night that confirmed that two suspects had been "dealt with" but said it was possible a third suspect was on the loose.
The shooting happened in a conference room in which a Christmas party for people attending the centre was believed to have been under way.
President Barack Obama was last night being briefed about the shooting rampage.
The San Bernardino Police Department said on Twitter that it had "confirmed one to three possible suspects" and multiple victims in the shooting. The agency called it an "active shooter" incident.
The San Bernardino Fire Department said in a tweet that it was responding to reports of 20 victims. San Bernardino is some 100km east of Los Angeles.
A police spokeswoman told the 'Los Angeles Times' that the suspects were heavily armed and possibly wearing body armour. CBS reported that a bomb squad was on the scene, trying to defuse what was believed to be an explosive device.
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton said on Twitter: "I refuse to accept this as normal. We must take action to stop gun violence now."
The US Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives said agents were at the scene of the attack.
The shooting took place at the Inland Regional Centre, one of 21 facilities serving people with developmental disabilities run by the state, said Nancy Lungren, spokeswoman for the California Department of Developmental Services.
TV images showed people with arms raised being evacuated from the building as triage stations were set up outside.
Police and SWAT teams were seen surrounding the building.
A spokeswoman from nearby Loma Linda Medical Centre said the hospital was expecting casualties.
The social services agency is among regional centres throughout California that administer, authorise and pay for assistance to people with disabilities such as autism and mental handicap.
The shooting in California comes less than a week after a gunman killed three people and wounded nine in a shooting rampage at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs.
In October, a gunman killed nine people at a college in Oregon and in June a white gunman killed nine black churchgoers in South Carolina.