2 Suspects Dead After Standoff With Police In San Bernardino, Calif.
KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:
We are continuing to follow events after a mass shooting in San Bernardino, Calif., which is about an hour east of Los Angeles. Earlier today, gunmen opened fire on a center that serves people with developmental disabilities. Fourteen people have died. We are going now to a police press conference in San Bernardino.
JARROD BURGUAN: ...Here at the Inland Regional Center. As officers were searching the building, we had mentioned in the first press conference that there were suspicious devices. One of those devices is believed to potentially be an explosive device, so they're taking a very cautious, very slow approach to processing that building and rendering that safe. So I would imagine we're going to be here for several hours as the bomb squad continues to work that part. On the investigative side, we had followed up on some tips that took us to a residence in the city of Redlands. When officers were setting up on that residence to watch it, there was a vehicle that was seen leaving that was suspected of being possibly involved. There ended up being a pursuit of that vehicle, and eventually that pursuit came back to San Bernardino Avenue between Mountain View and Richardson, here in the city of San Bernardino, where the suspect vehicle stopped, and there was an officer-involved shooting. We had multiple officers that were involved in the shooting. We have two suspects that are dead at the scene - one is a male, one is a female. We have one police officer that was wounded. He has injuries that are not considered to be life-threatening and he is at a local hospital and is expected to be okay. Of the suspects that were - that are dead at the scene, one is a male, one is a female. They were dressed in kind of assault-style clothing, I think is probably the best way to term it. They are both armed with assault rifles. They are both armed with handguns. And there's also kind of some sensitive stuff around the vehicle that they're just not real sure - they're taking a very cautious approach to dealing with the vehicle in case there's more explosives there.
With that, I'm going to turn it over to Dave Bowdich with the FBI to talk about some parts of the investigation.
DAVE BOWDICH: Thank you, Chief. So first off, my name is...
UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: Move closer to the mikes, please.
BOWDICH: My name is David Bowdich, I'm the assistant director in charge of the FBI here in the Los Angeles field office.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: Can you spell that?
BOWDICH: B, O, W, D, I, C, H. First off, we want to extend our true sadness to the families of the victims. There are many, many victims who were involved here. Some are obviously deceased. Others are wounded and being treated as we speak. This is truly a tragedy in our country, and we will continue to apply all the resources necessary to assure that both us, the Sheriff's Department, the San Bernardino Police Department, as well as the ATF, work this thing together to assure that we have chased down every lead to solve this case. Secondly, we are bringing in FBI resources. We have agents on a house in Redlands, Calif., right now. That house, as we know - we do not know the contents of what's in that house, but previous active shooter incidents have shown us that there are times when devices are left behind. We do not have any indications there are devices to my knowledge, but we certainly are going to proceed very cautiously into that house to preserve life and limb of our employees.
MCEVERS: And we're listening to a press conference from police and FBI officials in San Bernardino, Calif., after a mass shooting there.
BOWDICH: ...On the officer-involved shooting scenes, as well as the scene here where we have multiple victims, as well as the house. We will continue to go down this road. This is a marathon, not a sprint. I know one of the big questions that will come up repeatedly is, is this terrorism? And I am still not willing to say that we know that for sure. We are definitely making some movements that it is a possibility. We are making some adjustments to our investigation. It is a possibility, but we don't know that yet, and we're not willing to go down that road yet.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN #2: David, the relationship between the two dead suspects?
BOWDICH: Unknown at this point.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #1: How old, approximately, are they?
BOWDICH: I do not even know that. This is a...
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #1: What about the third suspect? There was talk of a third suspect.
BOWDICH: There is a third suspect, and I don't know the disposition of that suspect. I would defer that question to the chief. What I will tell you - on any indications of terrorism or this investigation - and I have told a few of you already - we will go where the evidence takes us. Now, it's possible it goes down that road. It's also possible it does not. We're just not sure yet, and when we are fairly sure, we will let you know.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN #3: David, do you have a motive for this?
UNIDENTIFIED MAN #4: What gives you a sense that this is possibly terrorism?
BOWDICH: There are a number of potentials, and there's a few potential things, but we just don't know. And I'm not willing to go down that road. This is a very fluid, active investigation. We are still gathering facts. All the heads of agencies that we have here, we are still gathering some of these facts ourselves because the scene is strewn throughout the city and into another city. And it's incredibly fluid, and that's just the way these things - we'll get there when we get there.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN #5: Do you have any information about the identity of the third suspect - description, age, anything?
BURGUAN: So I should have included in my - when I talked a moment ago. So as I said, we had an officer-involved shooting on San Bernardino Avenue between Mountain View and Richardson. There were two people in the vehicle; both of those people are deceased. There was a third person that was seen running away. We do not know if they were involved. We have that person detained. I don't have any information on who that person is yet, and we certainly do not know if they were involved. It's possible that they were not. In addition to that, and the reason we put things out on social media that we asked for people to shelter in place in those neighborhoods, is because there were some folks that called in and had reported that they heard folks -they heard somebody jumping fences. And they reported some of that activity in the neighborhood. We don't know if that was possibly responding officers, but we took a cautious approach. We locked down the neighborhood, we asked people to shelter in place, and we searched that neighborhood extensively. As of a couple minutes ago, we just got word that that search has been wrapped up. No additional folks have been contacted or seen there, so we feel that that area is safe, and we can lift that shelter-in-place order there.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN #6: Do you have any information yet on why this location?
BURGUAN: We do not have a motive.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #2: Approximate age of the suspect?
BURGUAN: We do not - I do not have that right now. Keep in mind that I said that there were some things that were causing the officers to take a very, very cautious approach in approaching those suspects. And so we just are not that far into the investigation yet.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN #7: ...Is that possible?
BURGUAN: I'm sorry?
UNIDENTIFIED MAN #7: Is there a possibility that these suspects might have had suicide vests or something similar?
BURGUAN: I don't know. I have not heard suicide vests, no.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN #8: Do you believe that this whole situation is all clear, that people are safe, or are there still more shooters potentially out there?
BURGUAN: We feel confident about the neighborhood where the officer-involved shooting took place, that we have secured that, and there's nobody outstanding there. We're reasonably confident on that. On the broader scale of the investigation, as I said early on, we had information that there were potentially three shooters. We are still at a point where we are tracking down that information. We're going to try to continue to identify if there was a third person involved or potentially even more people that might have been involved in the planning. But we're still pretty early on that part of the investigation.
I can't listen to all of them.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN #9: Chief, there's a report out that at the holiday party somebody left angrily, went out, came back with two other people with guns and started firing. Any truth to that?
BURGUAN: So I have heard that they were in a meeting or a holiday party-type event at the Inland Regional Center. Somebody did leave, but we have no idea if that is the person that came back.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN #9: Oh, so that's a possibility then? You're looking at that.
BURGUAN: Somebody did leave. There was some type of dispute or something when somebody left that party. But we have no idea if those are the people that came back.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN #10: Chief, do you have any idea what kind of weapons were recovered at the point of the shoot out? You said long guns, initially.
BURGUAN: They were assault-style weapons.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN #10: So they were automatic rifles, AK, series A, like that?
BURGUAN: Yeah, that type of weapon. Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #3: Are there explosives, sir, near that black SUV currently?
BURGUAN: There was a report that they potentially threw what was identified as a pipe bomb. I think we've rendered that device safe. It was not an explosive. I think we're still working on the vehicle and making sure that that is safe.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN #11: Can you give us anything on description of these suspects, their appearance?
MCEVERS: We are listening to a press conference with the police and FBI agents in San Bernardino where there was a mass shooting earlier today. Fourteen people were killed.
BURGUAN: ...I think the people that we have at the scene who are deceased are dressed in that way. They're dressed in dark, kind of tactical gear, I think is the best way I'll put it.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN #12: Ethnicity, anything like that? Do you have any information on that?
BURGUAN: I don't know. I don't know.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN #13: Chief, since you served a search warrant, is it your understanding that...
BURGUAN: I didn't say we served a search warrant.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN #13: Okay. So...
UNIDENTIFIED MAN #13: I understand you served a search warrant, so we're being told. So is it your understanding that they were holed up in the general area, then, the whole time? They never left?
BURGUAN: There was information on the early part of the investigation. As we started to develop information, there was one particular focus area that we went - there were a couple - but there was one particular focus area that we went to. And it was one of those follow-ups, focus areas, that led us to the house in Redlands, that led to the ultimate pursuit, that led to the officer-involved shooting.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #4: Did they live there? Was that their house?
BURGUAN: The address was connected to the follow-up that we had. I don't know who the suspects are, nor do I know if that is where they lived.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #5: Chief, do you believe that the police killed the two people at the end?
BURGUAN: They were carrying assault-style weapons.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN #14: Were they AK-47s?
BURGUAN: I don't know the specific caliber or make or model of the gun.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN #15: Chief, the arrest...
BURGUAN: Hang on real quick.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #5: Did the police kill those two people in the SUV?
BURGUAN: There were two people in the SUV. Both of them are deceased.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #5: So the police killed them both.
BURGUAN: One male, one female - well, they were engaged in the gun battle with police officers, and we had several officers that shot at them and into the vehicle. I don't know what bullets caused their death.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN #16: So you have a third person in custody but you're not sure if they're involved.
BURGUAN: We have a third person that was seen leaving the area. He is detained. We do not know the extent of his involvement, if any. It's possible that he was not.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN #17: Is that the person arrested at Aurora (ph) and Coulston?
BURGUAN: I - it was - he was - the person was detained very close to the officer-involved shooting. We don't have an Aurora.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #6: Was he wearing similar clothing?
BURGUAN: I don't know.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN #17: There was an arrest on Coulston Street...
BURGUAN: There was somebody detained. We have not identified them yet.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #7: Chief, did that person have weapons on him? That third suspect that's detained, any weapons located on that person?
BURGUAN: I don't have that information.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #8: Were there any words exchanged during this gunfire that you could speak of between the suspects and the police.
BURGUAN: I don't know.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN #18: Chief, what's their nationality?
BURGUAN: I don't know. OK, we're going to try to do another press conference sometime around 8:30, 9:00. Hopefully we'll have more information for you at that time. Thank you.
MCEVERS: That was police Chief Jarrod Burguan in San Bernardino finishing up a press conference after a mass shooting today at a center for people with developmental disabilities killed 14 and injured 17 more. I'm joined now in the studio by NPR's national security editor, Phil Ewing. And Phil, what are some of the new things we heard in this press conference?
PHIL EWING, BYLINE: Well, the police and law enforcement officials answered some of the questions we had earlier in our program. We know that the suspects being "dealt with," quote, unquote, in the phrase of police earlier means they were both killed, evidently in this gunfight with police in this sport-utility vehicle they were using to try to get away from a house where law enforcement had closed in after the shooting. We know that the third suspect that there had been reports about may not be connected with this. It sounds like the law enforcement officers basically put a dragnet around this neighborhood where they stopped this car and may have just arrested people who were running or, you know, police thought were acting suspiciously. But from what we heard there from the chief, it sounds like the two individuals who were in this car, who had these assault weapons he described, have been killed. And they may have been, so far, the only ones we know for sure were a part of the shooting.
MCEVERS: And just to recap, you know, the shooting happened around 11:00 Pacific time. An alarm went off, 911 was called, and then there was this black SUV that was seen fleeing the scene, right? And witnesses - you know, people thought maybe it was witnesses. Eventually, you know, police realized that it was these two suspects. They actually said in this press conference that they were investigating a house, an address, that was connected to the suspects. And then this car gave chase, and that's when the shooting happened, and the two suspects ended up dead. Is that right?
EWING: Yes, that's correct. And we also learned a little bit more about the scale of this attack from the police press conference. For example, we learned that there was at least one explosive device at this Inland Regional Center. The police chief said that explosive ordinance disposal technicians had to go in and render that safe. There were reports from witnesses, according to this press conference, that these people threw what looked like a pipe bomb from this car. And although it didn't look like it was actually an explosive according to the police, they are treating the scene very gingerly. There are TV pictures that have been broadcast all night of them using a bomb disposal shielded vehicle to drive up to this SUV to investigate it very gingerly, just because they aren't sure exactly what else may be in this car, given that these two suspects were armed with these assault weapons and were wearing these flak vests - you know, military-style assault vests.
MCEVERS: That's right. And we also know from the police now that these suspects were carrying assault-style weapons. That's what he said. And we also heard from the FBI - David Bowdich who's head of the LA field office for the FBI. And he said they are not calling it terrorism, but they are making some adjustments to their investigation to allow for the possibility that it's terrorism. What do you think that means?
EWING: I think, as he said, they are going to take this investigation where it leads them. So I don't know what kind of facts these investigators may have discovered so far that led him to give that kind of cryptic statement, but he apparently is willing to keep his mind open as to the origins or the causes of this attack.
MCEVERS: And we also heard, you know, that this pursuit happened and that residents were told eventually that things were safe now that two of the suspects are dead and a third suspect is now in custody. Did it sound to you like this is over?
EWING: That is the way the police made it sound during that press conference. There had been an alert that went out earlier for schools, for courthouses and other government buildings to add additional security because these gunmen were still at large. And now the police appear to believe the situation is resolved. And so that means that those lockdowns and that additional security can be stood down.
MCEVERS: That's NPR's national security editor, Phil Ewing. Thanks so much, Phil.
EWING: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.