The other victims of San Bernardino shooting: families left without answers

While media outlets and law enforcement have developed a routine response to mass shootings in the US, families and friends of the victims in San Bernardino are still battling their own confusion and grief. 

Jae C. Hong/AP
People wait at a community center for a family member who was near a shooting that killed multiple people at a social services center, Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2015, in San Bernardino, Calif.

After the mass shooting at the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino, California, Wednesday that killed 14 and wounded 17 others, families and friends of the victims suffered an antagonizing wait before learning the fate of their loved ones.

Sherry Esquerra desperately tried to reach her daughter after learning of an active shooter in the same social services office as where her daughter works for children with disabilities. “Nothing, I just get her message,” Ms. Esquerra tells the Associated Press. “Straight to voicemail.”

So far in the year 2015, there have been more than 350 shootings in the US in which four or more people are harmed or killed, according to shootingtracker.com, a website that tallies gun violence in the US. And in what may be considered an insensitive yet also accurate opening, BBC began its coverage of the San Bernadino shootings Wednesday with the tagline: “Just another day in the United States of America, another day of gunfire, panic and fear.”

And although the aftermath of mass shootings has become almost routine for the police and media, there was nothing normal about the attacks in San Bernardino Wednesday for the victims’ friends and family.

Ryan Reyes described to NBC4 the shock and confusion he felt Wednesday afternoon when he learned his boyfriend, Daniel Kaufman, had been shot in the arm. 

It’s all been a blur,” he said. “My sister texted me about somebody shooting up the Inland regional center – isn’t that where Daniel works? I immediately freaked out, tried to call him, text him.” 

Luis Gutierrez was on the phone with his wife when she saw a gunman with a rifle enter the building, and he heard the screaming in the background. 

“I just couldn’t drive,” he told the Los Angeles station. “I didn’t know what was going on. All I heard was, ‘there’s a shooter at work.’”

Mr. Reyes and Mr. Gutierrez later learned their loved ones were safe, but the families of 14 other victims did not hear such relieving news.   

While many news anchors broke the news of Wednesday’s shootings with phrases such as “In what has become an increasingly commonplace scene,” and “In yet another mass tragedy,” President Obama reminded the American public that the frequency of these events is unprecedented and unnecessary. 

Speaking to CBS News moments after the news broke of the San Bernardino shootings, Mr. Obama said the frequency of US mass shootings “has no parallel anywhere else in the world.”

He added, “We should never think that this is just something that just happens in the ordinary course of events because it doesn’t happen with the same frequency in other countries.”

While Americans are sharply divided about just to address such incidents, there is a general sense that there is great risk of becoming resigned to the fact that such tragedies are an inevitable part of American life.

As the Los Angeles Times’ Mary McNamara writes:

“News outlets, including this one, flooded the area with a frightening efficiency born of repetition. Gone was the stutter-step of disbelief, the voice-choked sorrow, the barely concealed rage that marked coverage of Columbine, Virginia Tech, Newtown and Aurora. Gone was the first stage of denial or cautious diminishment, the hope that the harm done would not, could not, be as great as feared. In its place was the grim reality of a nation that knows better, a near mechanical acceptance of a now-familiar scenario.”

This report contains material from the Associated Press.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.