LOS ANGELES Police in Southern California who dealt with the carnage of a mass shooting by Islamic militants that left 14 people dead marked its one-year anniversary on Friday by riding on bicycles toward the scene of the attack, with placards honoring the victims.
It was one of a day-long series of events in San Bernardino, California, scene of one of the deadliest acts of violence by militants in the United States since the Sept. 11, 2001, hijacked plane attacks.
The group of more than three dozen bicyclists, mostly law enforcement officers, set off from the city’s police department toward the Inland Regional Center, where the attack took place.
A year ago, Syed Rizwan Farook, 28, and his wife, Tashfeen Malik, 29, opened fire during a holiday party and training session for San Bernardino County employees, who were Farook’s co-workers, wounding 22 people in addition to the 14 killed.
San Bernardino police Sergeant Emil Kokesh, who led the bike riders, was one of the emergency responders who arrived at the shooting that day. While he expected chaos, smoke and people not listening to him, the scene officials encountered was life- changing.
“It was other things that we weren’t really expecting, the amount of people that were injured,” he added.
The ride on Friday, in which participants affixed to their bicycles placards with the names and photos of victims, ran for 14 miles (23 km), representing one mile for each person killed.
Authorities have said that U.S.-born Farook and Malik, a native of Pakistan, were inspired by Islamic extremism. The couple died in a shootout with police four hours after the massacre.
In a separate ceremony on Friday at a blood bank, residents came in to donate blood as a symbol of community strength.
Among them was Michael Avila, 15, who was giving blood for the first time. He said the attack shook his city, which has just over 200,000 residents and is less than 60 miles (100 km) east of Los Angeles.
“It showed that something like that can happen, realistically, anywhere,” Avila said.
In the evening, another San Bernardino event was expected to draw at least 2,000 participants to an arena.
FBI investigators are still seeking to answer key questions, such as the location of the married couple’s computer hard drive and whether anyone helped them.
(Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis, additional reporting by Patrick Fallon; Editing by Leslie Adler and Jonathan Oatis)