San Bernardino mourns, strives for unity, not fear

Tami Abdollah and Brian Skoloff
Associated Press

San Bernardino, Calif. — At a church, a mosque, a makeshift street-corner memorial and other sites, they gathered Sunday to mourn the 14 victims of the San Bernardino massacre and lament that the community has now been added to the tragic list of U.S. cities scarred by terrible violence.

Residents struggled to come to terms with the violence and hoped the community would unite in mourning and not be divided by the disclosure that the killers were a religious Muslim couple.

“It’s unfortunate that we’re on this list now, a list like Newtown, Aurora and others where such tragic events occurred,” Rep. Pete Aguilar, D-Calif., told a crowd at a mosque. “It’s not how I want San Bernardino remembered.”

Meanwhile, investigators were looking into what led Tashfeen Malik and Syed Farook to attack the gathering of Farook’s co-workers on Wednesday.

On Sunday, scores of mourners visited a growing memorial on a corner near the social service center where the shooting took place. There were American flags, a poster that read “Pray for the world,” balloons, candles and cards. Many said they hoped the community would pull together.

“I’m trying to use it as a teaching thing for myself and for my children that horrible things happen, but it doesn’t mean that everybody is a horrible person,” said Eric Abrams, of San Bernardino.

At the St. Catherine of Siena Catholic Church, where shooting victim Yvette Velasco worshipped, the service focused on the need to get beyond the anger. Many parishioners said they would reach deep into their faith to find some way to forgive.

More than 100 people gathered for an interfaith memorial service at a mosque where Farook had occasionally prayed. Silver-framed photos of the victims were placed on a table at the Islamic Community Center of Redlands, with a candle lit for each.

Muslim community members encouraged community members to come together and not live in fear.

“It is really sad that we meet because of this. It is sad that only in death are we able to celebrate humanity,” 30-year-old mosque member Ajarat Bada said, fighting back tears.

Many in the crowd wrote personal notes to the victims’ families that the mosque will deliver.

Meanwhile, investigators were looking into what led Tashfeen Malik and Syed Farook to attack the gathering of Farook’s co-workers on Wednesday.