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Unanswered Questions Drive Fear In San Bernardino


Joining us now is Beatriz Valenzuela. She is a crime reporter with the San Bernardino Sun. Beatriz, welcome.

BEATRIZ VALENZUELA: Hi, thank you. Thank you for having me.

WERTHEIMER: Now, you have been out reporting this morning. Am I correct that you've gone over to the house where these people who are suspected of doing the shooting - where they lived?

VALENZUELA: Yes, that's what they - they believe that the home in Redlands is associated with Farook and his wife. And they've been here since yesterday as well, the investigators.

WERTHEIMER: So what about your town? What's the mood in San Bernardino now?

VALENZUELA: It's still very surreal here. I've seen a lot of people talking about it in different places. I've left the scene to go grab something to eat and people are definitely talking about it, chatting about it. It's all over, obviously, social media, but even local social media sites have been talking about this - a lot of disbelief, a lot of just I can't believe it's happening in our own backyard.

WERTHEIMER: San Bernardino is a place, though, that does have a bit of a record for murder and violent crime, doesn't it? I mean, that's your job - that's what you do for the paper.

VALENZUELA: Oh, yeah, that's definitely something that takes place here, but I think it's the level of violence and where it happened and how it took place. This was a company Christmas party at a building, the Inland Resource Center, an organization that is known for helping the developmentally disabled of all ages. So I think it was more the shock that it would happen in a place that is expected to be secure. That doesn't compare to what is expected - the gang violence, the crime-related violence that, unfortunately, San Bernardino has become known for.

WERTHEIMER: What about fear? Do you think people are afraid after what happened?

VALENZUELA: Oh, definitely. There's a lot of fear, and I think a lot of it comes from just not knowing. There are so many questions out there. You know, why did they target these people? Was it personal? Was it an act of terrorism? Yeah, I think it's just all the unanswered questions that are really driving the fear here.

WERTHEIMER: And what about the perpetrators - the suspects - the two young people who apparently - who we believe did the shooting? What about reaction to them and who they are?

VALENZUELA: I think that there's still a lot of speculation out there. We're not hearing too much. The little bit that we are hearing about Farook is that he was a quiet person at work. The home in question is actually maybe half a block from our old newspaper building. And I've driven this street hundreds of times, if not thousands of times, and the area is very quiet. You don't get a lot of calls for service out of this area, so it's - I think a lot of people are in shock in that sense as well. They just don't know. They're back to the whole idea of there are more questions than answers at this point.

WERTHEIMER: Do you think that - are people accustomed to this kind of news in your community? Do you think that violence, bankruptcy - these are the stories you've been - that the paper's been writing for quite some time now. Do you think people are accustomed to it or see this as a completely different thing?

VALENZUELA: No, this is completely different for the reasons that I said. It's one thing if you say there was a shooting and it was between two gang members and it was over drugs and it was in an area...


VALENZUELA: ...That is known for crime. You know, this is completely different. These are all innocents - right now we have no motive, we have no reason behind it. No...

WERTHEIMER: Thank you very much. Beatriz Valenzuela, she's a crime reporter for the San Bernardino Sun. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.