Police are now searching for a black sport utility vehicle that fled the scene of a mass shooting that left up to 20 people injured inside of a San Bernadino social services office on Wednesday morning, federal law enforcement sources told the Los Angeles Times.
A San Bernardino police spokeswoman also confirmed there “are fatalities,” but was unsure of how many people had been killed.
At least three suspected shooters fled the building after gunfire erupted, according to the sources, who requested anonymity because the investigation is active and ongoing.
It is unclear if the people inside the vehicle are witnesses or suspects.
Police also used a robot to detonate a “device” found inside the building, according to the sources, who also said investigators were assembling a battering ram to gain access to the office complex.
The San Bernardino Fire Department said the shooting took place in the 1300 block of Waterman Avenue, near Orange Show Road.
Sgt. Vicki Cervantes, the San Bernardino police spokeswoman, told reporters at the scene up to three shooters were reported inside the Inland Regional Center. Officers have not secured the building and are going door to door.
The suspects, she said, are heavily armed and were possibly wearing body armor.
“It’s a very active scene,” Cervantes said. “It’s very fluid.”
Television news footage showed police officers and firefighters at the scene as well as people being escorted out of the area.
Officials said they received a call about a shooting about 11 a.m.
One man whose wife worked in the building told KABC-TV that at least one gunman walked into the center and opened fire. She was able to lock herself in her office.
“They saw bodies on the floor,” he said.
The office where the shooting took place, the Inland Regional Center, provides services to disabled people and others in need.
The organization’s website states: “Inland Regional Center was built on the foundation of three core values — independence, inclusion, and empowerment. In following these core values, we hope to help provide each individual with a service system that helps identify and eliminate barriers for individuals with developmental disabilities and their families so they can closely live a typical lifestyle.”
The shooting rippled across San Bernardino.
Tom Brown said he and countless other employees and customers at San Bernardino Golf Club were on lockdown Wednesday.
“We’re not allowing anyone on the golf course. We got a big helicopter sitting in the middle of the No. 1 fairway,” Brown told The Times. “We’re several hundred yards away from the area. We can see fire and SWAT from here, but we’re not allowed to go any farther.”
Brown said his coworker said she heard gunshots nearby.
Meanwhile, the bus company that provides transportation for San Bernardino City Unified School District is offering its buses to transport victims and witnesses of the shooting, said district spokeswoman Linda Berdere.
Fred Henning was holed up inside the paralegal’s office where he works with his wife, about a block from the scene of the shooting. Henning said they were standing outside as helicopters swooped over the area, but fled back into the building as police began to flood the area.
“We just came inside because it could be stray bullets, who knows?” Henning said. “We did mill around outside for a while but we decided the better plan was to stay in. We’re stranded in here … we’re in an office building.”
The block where the shooting took place is home to a number of businesses, Henning said, including a three-building complex that houses his office and roughly 140 others. The street has been completely shut down.
“I see squad cars like you won’t believe,” Henning said.
Times Staff Writers James Queally and Paloma Esquivel contributed to this report.