'This is not Redlands': Community in shock after mass shooting

California Town Refuses To Be Defined By Link to Terror Shootings
California Town Refuses To Be Defined By Link to Terror Shootings

Residents of Redlands were still reeling from the news that a seemingly ordinary couple from the community had carried out a shooting rampage that left 14 people dead.

"This is not Redlands," was a common refrain from residents Saturday, days after Tashfeen Malik and Syed Farook went on the attack at his office Christmas party and were later shot dead in a gunbattle with police.

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The California town of around 70,000 is east of San Bernardino, where Farook and his wife Malik opened fire during the luncheon at the Inlands Regional Center, and not immune to gang violence and other crimes that afflict many cities across the nation. But Wednesday's shocking events prompted some residents to think about their town, and the world, in new ways.

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Jajuan Dawson, 22, a communications student who lives across from the home where Farook and Malik lived, and where the police pursuit that ended in their deaths began, said the rampage has renewed his interest in possibly joining the military.

"I've been thinking of signing up, because if we aren't safe at home we've got to go make home safe," Dawson said.

Dawson is also thinking about buying a firearm, although he said, "I've always wanted one, anyway."

At the Olive Avenue Market, manager Patty Hart said "I think people are shocked, sad and scared that something like this actually happened right here in our own community."

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Residents described the Redlands as sleepy, a community once buoyed by a citrus industry that has since faded. "Very quiet. As a kid, we called it 'deadlands,'" Hart said, a place where many young people dreamed of leaving for brighter city lights.

Hart said Redlands is a community where people know each other. After the attack, that is now more important than ever, she said.

"My personal feeling about it is: Each of us as individuals need to get out and get to know who we're living next door to because that's how a community grows," Hart said.

"And I know that I had read something about, you know, the so-called racial profiling. But you know, if you don't say something when you see something going wrong, then you're a part of it too," she said. "And I think we all need to look out for each other."

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The shootings have reignited political arguments over gun control and the security of Americans.

Even before the shooting, safety in the face of global threats from the terror group ISIS and others weighed on some residents' minds.

The shooting rampage is being investigated as an act of terrorism, and ISIS praised the attacks but officials said there's no evidence the shooters were part of an organized terror group or had direct contact with anyone from ISIS. There are indications Farook and Malik were radicalized, officials said. A bomb factory was found in the garage of the home they rented.

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"I went to a City Council meeting, and instead of talking about typical business items on the agenda I was watching people rant and rave about we ain't accepting no Syrian refugees here," Hoder said, recalling a meeting before the attack at the Inland Regional Center.

"And look, they weren't Syrians, they were Pakistani, and one was born and raised in Chicago," Hoder said. "I'm sure glad we're keeping the Syrians out."

President Barack Obama repeated his call for "common sense gun laws" after the San Bernardino massacre -- and pointedly remarked that those on the country's no-fly list are still able to buy guns.

The two assault-style rifles and two handguns recovered after Farook and Malik were killed were purchased legally, authorities have said.

Dawson, the communications student, doesn't believe restricting firearms is the answer, although he thinks that those with mental problems or convicted felons shouldn't be able to get guns.

"There's no way we are going to keep firearms away from terrorists," Dawson said. "They're making bombs, for crying out loud. I'm sure they're going to be able to find a way to make a gun if we try and take them away."

Sonya Rozzi, owner of Olive Avenue Market, said while the proximity to the attacks has been "unnerving" she was hopeful for the future.

"We'll all still be the same people, it's the same community," Rozzi said. "I think everyone will be a little bit more proud in where and thoughtful and grateful."

"It's still a great place. It always was and it just is," she said.

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