(SAN BERNARDINO, Calif.) — When gunfire rang out inside the Inland Regional Center conference room, both the director and assistant director of San Bernardino’s Department of Public Health were there.
“I think I heard at least five or six rounds fired,” Assistant Director Corwin Porter told ABC News’ Cecilia Vega. Porter said the doors flew open and a “shooter stepped right into the room and began firing immediately.”
The suspected shooters, Department of Public Health employee Syed Farook and his wife, Tashfeen Malik, burst in during an employee training event Wednesday, killing 14 and injuring another 21, according to authorities.
“He burst through the doors. Firing and walking into toward the middle of the room, just indiscriminately,” said Director Trudy Raymundo, noting she “dropped and desperately tried to get underneath the table right next to me.”
“It didn’t look like he was pointing at anybody specific, he was just firing,” Raymundo said.
Porter said, “I did at one point poke my head up. … I did see the muzzle of the gun go down toward the ground and some shots down in the vicinity where our staff were hiding [at the table].”
Raymundo, who just saw one shooter — a man — said she noticed the shooter was very tall and in dark “assault-type” clothing.
Porter said it was “devastating” to learn one of the shooters, Farook, was an employee — “one of our own.”
“It’s a complete sense of betrayal,” Raymundo added. “It amazes me every day how close this group is, how tight knit they are, and it’s nothing but betrayal.”
Wednesday was supposed to be a celebration for another employee, well inspector Julie Paez, who was going to be named Employee of the Year.
Paez first texted a photo to her family saying she received the award, her son, Nicholas, told ABC News. The next photo she sent was a selfie of her after the shooting, accompanied by four words: “Love you. Was shot.”
But hearing from his mother was a relief, said Nicholas. “I knew she wasn’t shot in the head, and she wasn’t shot somewhere where it would make her pass out right away,” he said. “So I knew that maybe she’d be okay, but I had no idea.”
Paez suffered two gunshot wounds to the abdomen and is expected to be discharged from the hospital next week, Nicholas said. The family has started a GoFundMe page to help pay for some of her medical bills.
When police arrived after the shooting, said Porter and Raymundo, the employees, including the victims, left together as a group.
The police were telling everyone, “‘If you’re not injured, get out.’ We weren’t going to leave anybody behind, and so we went out as a group,” Raymundo recalled. “We tried to help those that we knew were injured. We needed to get them to safety. … We needed to take care of them.”
The staff happened to have an active shooter training in that same room one year ago.
“We made sure all of our staff had that training,” Porter said. “It was pushed out county-wide that we have this training for all of our staff just in the event that something might happen. And so they responded quite well. … Those who had something to hide under tried to find protection right away.”
Going back to work after the shooting will be tough, Porter said, because they want their employees to feel safe.
“They’re a very resilient group, and they’re a tight-knit group, and we’re going to pull together as a family and get through this,” Porter said. “I’m not to say there won’t be some scars, but we’ll get through it.
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