How a lucky bathroom trip spared San Bernardino survivor

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The San Bernardino County Public Health Department's Christmas party was in full swing on Wednesday morning when food inspector Patrick Baccari left for the bathroom.

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It was a break that may have saved his life.

As he reached for the paper towel dispenser, a puff of broken drywall hit Baccari's face, he recalled in an interview. Then he heard an explosion on the other side of the wall, where his co-workers had gathered to share lunch and take group photos during a day of in-service training at the Inland Regional Center.

Photos from the scene:

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San Bernardino Shooting, People on Scene, Mourning
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How a lucky bathroom trip spared San Bernardino survivor
SAN BERNARDINO, CA - DECEMBER 3: A local outreach group prays with residents near the scene of an investigation where two suspects were gunned down during a shootout with police, December 3, 2015 in San Bernardino, California. A day earlier, the two suspects allegedly shot and killed 14 people at the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino. (Photo by Gina Ferazzi/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
SAN BERNARDINO, CA - DECEMBER 3: Redondo Police Officer Dan Richey carries a bouquet of flowers to deliver to a female shooting victim that grew up in Redondo Beach at the Arrowhead Regional Medical Center on December 3, 2015 in San Bernardino, California.A day earlier, the two suspects allegedly shot and killed 14 people and injured over 20 at the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino. (Photo by Gina Ferazzi/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
SAN BERNARDINO, CA - DECEMBER 03: A mourner cries as she brings flowers to a road block outside of the Inland Regional Center on December 3, 2015 in San Bernardino, California. Police continue to investigate a mass shooting at the Center that left at least 14 people dead and another 17 injured. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
A woman identified as the fiancée of shooting victim (C-purple) is comforted by friends and Chaplain Steve Ballinger (L) as she leaves flowers on December 3, 2015, near the site of a mass shooting at the Inland Regional Center where 14 people were killed on December 2 in San Bernardino, California. Ballinger said the woman's fiancé died in the attack. AFP PHOTO/PATRICK T. FALLON / AFP / Patrick T. Fallon (Photo credit should read PATRICK T. FALLON/AFP/Getty Images)
SAN BERNARDINO, CA - DECEMBER 3: Larry Jones, pastor of Cross over Outreach Church, Dr. Jeannetta Million, pastor of Victoria's Believers Church, and Arnold Morales, pastor of King of Glory Church bow their heads in prayers for the victims and those involved in the mass shootings at the Inland Regional Center, during a prayer vigil at Orange Show Road and Waterman Avenue December 3, 2015 in San Bernardino, California. Investigators are looking for a motive as to why Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik went on a shooting rampage that left 14 dead and at least 17 others wounded. (Photo by Marcus Yam/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
SAN BERNARDINO, CA - DECEMBER 3: Local resident Katrina Venegas is close to tears as she has been kept away from her home which is directly in front of shooting scene where 2 suspects were gunned down driving a black SUV during a shootout with police on San Bernardino Avenue the day after the suspects allegedly shot and killed 14 people at the Inland Regional Center on December 3, 2015 in San Bernardino, California. She said her dog has been locked in the house alone since yesterday. (Photo by Gina Ferazzi/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
SAN BERNARDINO, CA - DECEMBER 3: San Bernardino resident Lisa Gonzalez hugs Pastor Ernie Ceballos after he was helpful in getting the police to escort her back to her home on the same street where sheriff deputies investigate the scene where 2 suspects were gunned down during a shootout with police on San Bernardino Avenue the day after the suspects allegedly shot and killed 14 people at the Inland Regional Center on December 3, 2015 in San Bernardino, California. Gonzalez had left home briefly yesterday to go buy milk for her twin 3-year-olds. The shooting took place in front of her house while she was gone. She and her son, Santana Gonzalez,left, were not allowed back to their home so they spent the night in a hotel. Her husband was home with the children and wasn't allowed to leave the home. (Photo by Gina Ferazzi/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
SAN BERNARDINA, CA - DECEMBER 2: Olivia Navarro waits to see her daughter after a mass shooting at the Inland Regional Center on December 2, 2105 in San Bernardino, California. Multiple fatalities and injuries were reported as police search for up to three suspects who are still at-large. (Photo by Marcus Yam/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
SAN BERNARDINO, CA - DECEMBER 03: A group of men embrace in prayer outside the crime scene where the suspects in the shooting at the Inland Resource Center were killed on December 3, 2015 in San Bernardino, California. Police continue to investigate a mass shooting at the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino that left at least 14 people dead and another 17 injured. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
SAN BERNARDINO, CA - DECEMBER 02: Mayor of San Bernadino, California R. Carey Davis pauses during a press conference at City Hall regarding the shooting that took place inside the Inland Regional Center on December 2, 2015 in San Bernardino, California. Police continue to investigate the shooting that left at least 14 people dead and another 17 injured. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
SAN BERNARDINO, CA - DECEMBER 02: Mayor of San Bernadino, California R. Carey Davis speaks during a press conference at City Hall regarding the shooting that took place inside the Inland Regional Center on December 2, 2015 in San Bernardino, California.Police continue to investigate the shooting that left at least 14 people dead and another 17 injured. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
Omar Riopedre embraces his wife Diana, who was in the Inland Regional Center when the mass shootings took place, as they leave the Rudy C. Hernandez Community Center in the San Bernardino on December 2, 2015. A man and a woman suspected of carrying out a deadly shooting at a center for the disabled in California were killed in a shootout with police, while a third person was detained, police said. AFP PHOTO / FREDERIC J. BROWN / AFP / FREDERIC J. BROWN (Photo credit should read FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images)
SAN BERNARDINA, CA - DECEMBER 2: Luis Gutierrez gets emotional as he talks about his wife after a mass shooting at the Inland Regional Center on December 2, 2105 in San Bernardino, California. Multiple fatalities and injuries were reported as police search for up to three suspects who are still at-large. (Photo by Marcus Yam/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
SAN BERNARDINO, CA - DECEMBER 2: Marie Cabrera, Sonya Gonzalez and Christine Duran, all of San Bernardino, pray after a mass shooting at the Inland Regional Center on December 2, 2105 in San Bernardino, California. Multiple fatalities and injuries were reported as police search for up to three suspects who are still at-large. (Photo by Rick Loomis/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
People evacuated from the Inland Regional Center walk from busses into The Rock Church and World Outreach Center during the aftermath of a mass shooting at the facility on December 2, 2015 in San Bernardino, California. One or more gunmen opened fire inside a center for the disabled in killing at least 14 people and wounding the same number before fleeing the scene, officials said. AFP PHOTO / PATRICK T. FALLON / AFP / Patrick T. Fallon (Photo credit should read PATRICK T. FALLON/AFP/Getty Images)
SAN BERNARDINO, CA - DECEMBER 2: Employees and other people are evacuated by bus from the site of a mass shooting at the Inland Regional Center December 2, 2015 in San Bernardino, California. Multiple fatalities were reported as police search for up to 3 suspects who are still at large. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)
SAN BERNARDINO, CA - DECEMBER 2: Employees and other people are evacuated by bus from the site of a mass shooting at the Inland Regional Center December 2, 2015 in San Bernardino, California. Multiple fatalities were reported as police search for up to three suspects who are still at large. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)
SAN BERNARDINO, CA - DECEMBER 2: Employees and other people are evacuated by bus from the site of a mass shooting at the Inland Regional Center December 2, 2015 in San Bernardino, California. Multiple fatalities were reported as police search for up to three suspects who are still at large. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)
Police escort civilians away from the 1300 block of S. Waterman Street near the site of a shooting took place on December 2, 2015 in San Bernardino, California. One or more gunman opened fire inside a building in San Bernardino in California, with reports of 20 victims at a center that provides services for the disabled. Police were still hunting for the shooter, saying one to three possible suspects were involved. Heavily armed SWAT teams, firefighters and ambulances swarmed the scene, located about an hour east of Los Angeles, as police warned residents away. AFP PHOTO / FREDERIC J. BROWN / AFP / FREDERIC J. BROWN (Photo credit should read FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images)
Survivors are evacuated from the scene of a shooting on December 2, 2015 in San Bernardino, California. One or more gunman opened fire inside a building in San Bernardino in California, with reports of 20 victims at a center that provides services for the disabled. Police were still hunting for the shooter, saying one to three possible suspects were involved. Heavily armed SWAT teams, firefighters and ambulances swarmed the scene, located about an hour east of Los Angeles, as police warned residents away. AFP PHOTO / FREDERIC J. BROWN / AFP / FREDERIC J. BROWN (Photo credit should read FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images)
Survivors are evacuated from the scene of a shooting under police and sheriff's escort on December 2, 2015 in San Bernadino, California. One or more gunman opened fire inside a building in San Bernardino in California, with reports of 20 victims at a center that provides services for the disabled. Police were still hunting for the shooter, saying one to three possible suspects were involved. Heavily armed SWAT teams, firefighters and ambulances swarmed the scene, located about an hour east of Los Angeles, as police warned residents away. AFP PHOTO / FREDERIC J. BROWN / AFP / FREDERIC J. BROWN (Photo credit should read FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images)
SAN BERNARDINO, CA - DECEMBER 2, 2015: Evacuated workers pray in a circle on the San Bernardino Golf Course across the street where a mass shooting occurred at the Inland Regional Center on December 2, 2105 in San Bernardino, California. Multiple fatalities and injuries were reported as police search for up to three suspects who are still at large. (Photo by Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
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Baccari looked in the mirror and saw that his face was starting to bleed.

The retired Air Force Reserves medic then noticed bullet holes in the wall.

"Get down on the floor!" he shouted to three others in the bathroom.

One man ran. The others stayed.

Baccari said that while the attack unfolded, he and the others held the bathroom door closed.

"That may have saved me," Baccari said.

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A few feet away, a pair of armed attackers were spraying the conference room with gunfire. When it was over, 14 of his colleagues were dead and another 20 hurt.

He would later learn that one of the suspected attackers was Syed Rizwan Farook, a fellow health inspector with whom he shared a cubicle. At the party, they'd sat at the same table before the shooting began.

Farook died along with his wife, who also took part in the attack, in a confrontation with police.

Baccari escaped relatively unscathed -- scratches on his face, fragments of metal in his skin.

Contemplating the number of friends he'd lost, Baccari said, "everybody that died."

He added, "I assumed Syed was our friend as well."

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