How a lucky bathroom trip spared San Bernardino survivor

San Bernardino Suspects Fired 65 to 75 Rounds
San Bernardino Suspects Fired 65 to 75 Rounds

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:

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."

Data curated by FindTheData

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