Crime & Justice

First responders recount scene of San Bernardino mass shooting, including hero cop from video

Some of the first responders to the scene of last week's mass shooting in San Bernardino spoke about the experience Tuesday at the San Bernardino Police Department. Among them was Jorge Lozano, whose words of comfort to a woman and small child were caught on cellphone video.
Some of the first responders to the scene of last week's mass shooting in San Bernardino spoke about the experience Tuesday at the San Bernardino Police Department. Among them was Jorge Lozano, whose words of comfort to a woman and small child were caught on cellphone video.
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San Bernardino area first responders Tuesday recalled the "surreal" scene nearly a week ago when they responded to reports of an active shooter at the Inland Regional Center.

"There was a female there with a small child who was shaking like a leaf," said San Bernardino Sheriff's Detective Jorge Lozano, who was helping clear a hallway at the IRC. 

Fourteen people died and 21 were injured in the mass shooting. The Federal Bureau of Investigation is investigating it as a terrorist attack. 

Lozano's actions were captured on a cell phone camera by Gabi Flores, a survivor at the scene, in a video first published by KPCC.

In the video, Lozano tries to reassure a group of nervous people being evacuated from the Inland Regional Center. 

"Try to relax, try to relax. I'll take a bullet before you do, that's for damn sure," he says.

Lozano has since started a charity to benefit victims of the attack that sells apparel adorned with the now-famous quote. 

Lozano launched a Go Get Funding page Tuesday. As of Tuesday afternoon, 25 people had donated $11,470. The goal is $500,000. 

"I meant what I said, that we were going to do anything to get them to safety," he said. "I didn't say anything special. Any law enforcement would have said the same thing."

Lozano was one of an estimated 300 local, state and federal law enforcement officers who responded to the Inland Regional Center in the minutes and hours after the shooting.

Among the first to arrive was Corporal Scott Snyder of the Fontana Police Department. 

"My body went numb," he said. "It was overwhelming and surreal. It hit me that this was not a training drill."

Officer Donald Sawyer of the San Bernardino Police Department said he had to move past victims lying on the floor of the IRC because officers believed the shooters were still in the building.

"It was one of the worst things I have had to experience in my career," he said. "It was terrible."

"The room looked like chaos — the worst party you could imagine," said San Bernardino Police Detective Tiffany Emon. "Tables and chairs everywhere. Things broken."

San Bernardino Officer Nicholas Koahou was part of the shootout with the suspects in Redlands that occurred after the mass shooting at the IRC. He described the moment that he realized he was shot in the thigh.

"I was in the Marine Corps, so I was taught that you're never out of the fight; you keep fighting," he said. 

The task of investigating the shooting and suspected shooters — Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik — now falls to the FBI. 

David Bowdich, assistant director of the agency's Los Angeles office has revealed that investigators believe the married couple were "radicalized and had been for some time." They were both killed in a shootout with police following the initial attack. 

Bowdich said the couple was likely inspired by foreign terrorist organizations that espouse a violent version of Islam. Investigators have not found any evidence, however, that the two received any aid or contact from oversees groups. 

"We do not see any evidence of a plot outside of the continental United States," he said Monday.

Federal officials are speaking with a man named Enrique Marquez, who purchased two of five guns recovered from the suspects. Details of how the guns came into Farook and Malik's possession are unclear.

Bowdich also said investigators were still speaking with Farook's mother, who lived with the couple and their 6-month-old daughter in a Redlands house where investigators removed 19 pipes, some — but not all — part of makeshift explosive devices.

San Bernardino Police Chief Jarrod Burguan said in the press conference Tuesday that his department and other first responders will return to their primary mission: keeping San Bernardino safe.

"This is not about us," Burguan said. "We'd like to focus on the victims going forward."