14 killed in terrorism-style shooting in San Bernardino; Christian leaders urge prayer

by Michael Foust |

(NBC/SCREEN SHOT)

SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. (Christian Examiner) – Prayers poured out on social media Wednesday after two or three armed gunmen stormed a building in California and killed at least 14 people and injured another 17 before driving away in a black SUV.

Witness told local media people were gathered for a Christmas party for various mental health agencies in the area.

The shootings took place around 11 a.m. Pacific time and then played out on television some four hours later as police took part in one gun battle and kept searching house to house. As of early Wednesday evening, there were conflicting reports whether any of the gunmen had been killed.

(NBC/SCREEN SHOT)

Witnesses at the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino, California, told police that the gunmen entered the building and started firing shots before running out to jump into the vehicle.

A motive is not known and although some were calling it ISIS-style terrorism, NBC's Pete Williams reported that witnesses said the gunmen did not shout anything – such as "Allahu Akbar" – as the terrorists in Paris did.

But the fact that three men were involved made it unusual. Nearly all mass shootings studied by the FBI in recent years consisted of one lone shooter.

Witnesses said the gunmen were heavily armed, wearing body armor, and dressed in black with masks. The shootings turned the intersection outside of the building into a triage.

The Inland Regional Center, 60 miles north of Los Angeles, provides social services to people with developmental disabilities. The three-story building has a staff of more than 600 people.

Christian leaders on social media quickly spoke out.

"Praying for all in San Bernardino, CA. No words for this. Just pray," wrote R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky.

Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, wrote on Twitter, "Once again, evil on display -- this time in #SanBernardino. Praying for the hurting and the arrest of the perpetrators."

Focus on the Family's Jim Daly wrote on Facebook that "Our hearts are broken by the news of the horrific mass shooting." He then posted a Bible verse: "Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, I will help you, yes, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand" (Isaiah 41:10).

Samaritan's Purse President Franklin Graham tweeted, "Pray for @SanBernardinoPD, @SBCountySheriff and all those responding to the active shooter at the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino."

Ed Stetzer, executive director of LifeWay Research, wrote on Twitter that it was sad that shootings have become commonplace: "The fact that I am watching a live police response to a mass shooting, and it's almost normal, shows how messed up the world is."