At least 14 people are confirmed dead and “upwards of 14” more are wounded after a shooting at a care centre in California for disabled people.
Police are searching for three suspects who fled the scene in a dark-coloured SUV, authorities have confirmed, after the shooting which took place in the city of San Bernardino, about 60 miles east of Los Angeles, at about 11am local time on Wednesday.
Live San Bernardino mass shooting: police say at least 14 dead – rolling coverage
California police say up to three people opened fire at San Bernardino care center and that ‘upwards of 14 people’ are dead and more than a dozen injured
In the deadliest shooting on US soil since the Sandy Hook school massacre in 2012, victims were killed by gunmen who entered the building carrying what police described as “long guns, not handguns”.
In a press conference, San Bernardino police chief Jarrod Burguan said the incident involved up to three gunmen. Asked directly whether he was dealing with an incident of terrorism, he said: “We do not know.”
Addressing a roadside press conference, he said the gunmen entered “as if on a mission”, adding: “They came in with a purpose … We have no information to indicate that this is terrorism in the traditional sense, obviously at a minimum we have a domestic terrorism situation.”
The attack took place at the Inland Regional Center, a care facility that works with developmentally disabled people. The building was evacuated; people were taken across the street to a golf course, where some were reportedly being treated for injuries.
Most of the victims were all in the same part of the building, police said.
Marybeth Field, a member of the board of trustees at Inland Regional Services, said on a given day the facility has 500 employees on-site.
As details of the latest mass shooting to hit the United States emerged, Barack Obama condemned the incident in an interview with ABC News shortly after the news broke. “We have a pattern now of mass shootings in this country that has no parallel anywhere in the world,” he said. Congress could do more to “improve the odds that they don’t happen as frequently”, he said.
Earlier, an official at the San Bernadino County sheriff’s department confirmed to the Guardian that law enforcement was acting on intelligence that three suspects were seen fleeing the scene in an SUV.
The official said the information was “intelligence received by the command post” set up by the San Bernadino police department, which is actively pursuing the lead.
Nancy Lungren, assistant director of communications for the California department of developmental services, said the Inland Regional Center is one of 21 facilities in the state that help coordinate services and support people with developmental disabilities including autism and cerebral palsy.
The attack is the latest in a litany of mass shooting events in the United States.
There have been at least 351 mass shootings in the US in the space of 334 days, according to the data collection efforts of a Reddit community who record all incidents with four or more victims (including the shooter).
Together, those shootings left at least 447 individuals confirmed as dead and 1,292 injured.