The latest mass shooting in the United States targeted the Inland Regional Center, a facility for persons with developmental disabilities in San Bernardino, Calif., midday Wednesday.
Inland Regional Center, which opened in 1971, is a nonprofit, community-based organization that serves more than 30,200 people in San Bernardino and Riverside counties, according to the company overview on Facebook.
“Inland Regional Center was built on the foundation of three core values — independence, inclusion, and empowerment,” the overview reads. “In following these core values, we hope to help provide each individual with a service system that helps identify and eliminate barriers for individuals with developmental disabilities and their families so they can closely live a typical lifestyle.”
With nearly 670 staff members, it is the largest regional center in the state of California, providing one-on-one attention for persons with disabilities to “make their lives better as they define it.”
The center’s mission statement commits to providing the support people need for everyday routines: “As an agency among agencies, Inland Regional Center coordinates with generic services to normalize the lives of people with developmental disabilities and their families by working to include them in the everyday routines and life rhythms of the community and by facilitating needed supports for them.”
Marybeth Field, the center’s president and CEO, told the Associated Press that the shooting was focused on the center’s conference building, which houses at least 25 employees and a library.
Inland Regional Center executive director Lavinia Johnson said the area was “rented out for a county personnel holiday party, possibly for the San Bernardino County Department of Health,” according to Reuters.
On social media, men and women of all ages swiftly denounced the attacks and expressed outrage that anyone could open fire on unarmed civilians. Many people were doubly disgusted that people with special needs appear to have been the targets.
I honestly will never understand why someone would shoot up a center for people with disabilities or any place for that matter!!— Essé ☺️ (@essence_nycole7) December 2, 2015
idk why you would shoot people in the first place, but WHY would you ever target people with disabilities? I am disgusted.— Karli DuBois (@imKarl_) December 2, 2015
#SanBernadino I just dont get why would anyone target a center for those with disabilities, this world has officially gone mad.— Dalal (@Adazzle_) December 2, 2015
This afternoon, shortly after the shooting, San Bernardino Police Chief Jarrod Burguan said that authorities currently believe upward of 14 people are dead and upward of 14 people are injured.
According to initial information, he said, the up to three suspects are thought to have still been in the building when officers entered.
“It is a massive facility, employs several hundred people, and it’s taken a long time to clear the building. In fact, we still have assets inside that are completing that clearing process,” Burguan said at about 2 p.m. PST.
Authorities are pursuing witness accounts that stated the suspects fled in a black SUV and at this point do not know the motive for the shooting.
Just one day before the shooting, the center held a Christmas party for its clients and staff members. Video and photos of the celebration had been shared via social media.
The ICF Holiday Party is in full swing! ☃ pic.twitter.com/AzOCbliVmb— Inland RC (@InlandRegional) December 1, 2015
Just spotted at the ICF Holiday Party...Santa!!! He's posing for photos and taking gift requests. pic.twitter.com/LTKqDOPy53— Inland RC (@InlandRegional) December 1, 2015
Many people shared their thoughts and prayers for the center through comments on the organization’s Facebook photos.
“What’s wrong with the world? Our thoughts and prayers are with the people caught up in today’s needless and senseless act of terrorism,” one person wrote.
“My thoughts and prayers are with IRC and every one of its caregivers and patients,” another wrote. “I can’t even IMAGINE what would go through the mind of an individual to wish harm on those who are not equipped to defend themselves, or the phenomenal people who devote their lives to helping those same people. This is the most disturbing thing in the world to me right now.”
The shooting took place one day before the United Nations’ International Day of Persons With Disabilities. December 3 has been an observance day to support the dignity and well-being of persons with disabilities since 1992.
This is a breaking story. Please follow the Yahoo News live blog for developments as more information becomes available.