SAN BERNARDINO (CBSLA.com) — Hundreds of San Bernardino residents gathered Friday evening to remember the 14 people killed and the 22 people wounded in the terror attack at the IRC a year ago today.
KCAL9’s Tom Wait said the memorial was powerful and emotional.
It was attended by victims, family and friends of victims and community members who just wanted to show their support.
He said one of the most poignant moments was when Julie Paez, a survivor of the attack, got up to speak.
She said she came to pay tribute to her fallen co-workers. Her voice cracked with emotion.
“Good evening. I’m, I’m humbled… sorry. I’m humbled to be able to speak today — I’ll try my best to get through that without too much tears,” Paez said.
Paez is a survivor – shot twice during the terrorist attack. She came back from the brink.
“When I was asked to speak tonight. My first response was no – I didn’t think I could do it. But then I thought this might be my chance to tell all of you about these incredible people. My friends who had their lives taken from them,” she said.
Paez told stories of all 14 victims who perished. One of her memories is of Shannon Johnson who was shot as he protected another coworker.
“His life ended as a hero though. He [was] protecting my friend Denise and told her ‘I got you.'”
The service featured heartfelt tributes and speeches from across the community, including from San Bernardino’s police chief.
“Some have transitioned back to the new normal. Others are still asking why. Why us? Why couldn’t I do more to help? And why couldn’t we have seen this coming,” said Chief Jarrod Burguan.
Those questions will likely never go away but coping with them may be possible because of support from the community.
“I speak on behalf of all of my coworkers and the families to extend my sincerest appreciation for the community and for everyone’s support. Thank you,” Paez said.
The ceremony closed with a stirring tribute of candlelight and music.