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Community Center Is A Scene Of Tears, Hugs After Mass Shooting


Let's try to understand the city now known as the location of this country's latest mass shooting.


UNIDENTIFIED MAN: They're shooting out of a - they're shooting at us both. The SUV's (inaudible) - crossfire.

INSKEEP: Those were some of the sounds on the police radio in San Bernardino, Calif. It's a city in the distant shadow of Los Angeles, far enough away to be the center of its own world. It's the hub of what's called California's Inland Empire. Matt Guilhem is a reporter with radio station KVCR in San Bernardino. He's on the line. Good morning.


INSKEEP: What is the neighborhood like where this shooting took place?

GUILHEM: Where this took place is a fairly industrial commercial area. The location where the shooting itself took place isn't that residential. It's on Waterman Avenue, which is a big arterial street, north and south through San Bernardino.

INSKEEP: And what is - what is the economy like in that area?

GUILHEM: The economy has been in great difficulty for some time in San Bernardino. It was the all-American city in the late '70s, and then a lot of the major industries in the city shut down, left town. And since the '90s, really, it's just been sort of slowly on this path, which kind of culminated with the bankruptcy.

INSKEEP: What were the industries that went away?

GUILHEM: There was Kaiser Steel, which was a really big employer. There was - the Santa Fe Railroad had their depot there. And the sort of heart of the city for a long time was Norton Air Force base, and that shut down in the early '90s. And that was sort of the final nail in the coffin.

INSKEEP: Why is the area called the Inland Empire? That sounds pretty grand.

GUILHEM: It's called the Inland Empire because it is this - it's this entity separate from LA. We are not the coast. We are not LA. The Inland Empire consists of Ontario, San Bernardino, Redlands, Colton - a lot of these places that are now really sort of up-and-coming in terms of their reliance on the logistics sector. That would be warehousing and movement of goods, really. That's what this area has sort of really become known for in the last several years.

INSKEEP: Oh, meaning that something is in a warehouse in or around the Inland Empire on its way to my home or somebody else's home?

GUILHEM: Exactly. Amazon has a lot of facilities here. Big box stores have facilities here. We're about an hour from the coast. We're connected to all of the major freeways in Southern California, so it's a very good staging area to have - to bring your goods before they go off to the rest of the country.

INSKEEP: So what kinds of responses have you heard around town as news of this shooting has spread?

GUILHEM: People are just generally shocked. I mean, this is a real curveball for the city. We've dealt with violent crime. We're used to gang violence. We had a very high homicide rate last year. It is a city where safety has been a perennial issue. Very hard, serious crime has happened in San Bernardino, but something like this is just - I mean, as it is - I'm sure when it happens in any community, it comes as a complete shock.

INSKEEP: Matt Guilhem, reporter in San Bernardino, Calif. Thanks very much.

GUILHEM: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Steven Cuevas