Obama comforts families of victims of San Bernardino shooting

SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. -- The girlfriend of one of the 14 people killed in the Dec. 2 shootings in San Bernardino said President Barack Obama immediately asked her for a hug when he came to talk with her.

See Full Article

Obama and his wife, Michelle, met with members of each of the 14 families in the library of Indian Springs High School on Friday night before heading to Hawaii for their annual holiday getaway. A separate table was set up for each family, and the Obamas moved from one to the next, spending about 10 minutes with each victim's relatives.

When Obama approached the table where Mandy Pifer was sitting, he said, "Words aren't enough. How about a hug?"

Pifer's boyfriend Shannon Johnson, 45, was killed in the attack.

"I've been watching you give hugs," Pifer recalled telling him. "I need a hug."

"It just felt like they were really present in their conversation with me," she said. "They are sick and tired of doing these things, meeting our families."

Such meetings have become a grim ritual of Obama's presidency. Most recently, he met privately in October with families of the victims of a student gunman who killed eight classmates and a teacher at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon, before turning the gun on himself.

Obama said meeting with the families in San Bernardino was a reminder "of what's good in this country."

"As difficult as this time is for them and for the entire community, they're also representative of the strength and the unity and the love that exists in this community and in this country," Obama said late Friday after the meetings with family members.

Pifer had told the Obamas about Johnson, how he loved life, his virtues and their future plans. She also shared with them what she knows about his last moments: His colleague Denise Peraza, who survived the attack, said Johnson huddled with her under a table as bullets flew across the room. He held her close and told her, "I got you."

Peraza credits Johnson with her survival, and since then the phrase "I got you" has spread across social media.

When she mentioned the phrase to the Obamas, they nodded, indicating it was a story they already knew, she said. She brought a sign stating ".IGotYou" that they all posed for a photo with. Pifer and Peraza are in the initial stages of planning a foundation in Johnson's memory.

"I feel like they're on my side," she said. "They're on our side. And that he's going to keep working to make this better even after he's left office. It's personal for them."

The Obamas encouraged her to reach out and promised to provide whatever support they could.

"Mrs. Obama she did say that she would rap or perform at our fundraising concert," Pifer said. "I will try to make her keep her word on that."

Pifer said the Obamas' visit was helpful.

"It's helping the grieving process," Pifer said. "It was very comforting."

Obama said the family members were "inspiring" as they spoke with pride about their loved ones.

"As we go into the holiday season, even as we are vigilant about preventing terrorist attacks from happening, even as we insist we can't accept the notion of mass shootings in public places, in places of work and worship, we have to remind ourselves of the overwhelming good that exists out there," he said.

Most of the 14 people killed at the holiday banquet worked with Farook in the San Bernardino County public health department. Nine men and five women, ranging in age from 26 to 60, were killed.

In the aftermath of the massacre, families of those killed have grieved while also slowly learning the unsettling details about the couple, American-born Syed Rizwan Farook, 28, and his wife, Tashfeen Malik, 29, of Pakistan, who killed their loved ones.

The FBI is investigating the case as an act of terrorism. The couple pledged allegiance to a leader of the Islamic State group on Facebook, moments before the shooting, authorities said. But they have found no evidence that the Farook and Malik were carrying out instructions from an overseas terrorist group or that they were part of a U.S.-based conspiracy. Both Farook and Malik were later killed in a gunfight with police.

The Islamic State group has claimed responsibility for the Nov. 13 attack in Paris that killed 130 people. Both attacks, happening so close to the holidays, heightened public fears about terrorism on U.S. soil.



Advertisements

Latest Canada & World News

  • Nova Scotia has appointed the first Mi'kmaq woman to the provincial judiciary

    Canada News CTV News
    HALIFAX -- Nova Scotia has appointed the first Mi'kmaq woman to the provincial judiciary. Nova Scotia Legal Aid lawyer Catherine Benton becomes only the second Mi'kmaq to become a judge in the province. In a statement, the Justice Department says Benton worked as a researcher with the Union of Nova Scotia Indians and the Mi'kmaq Grand Council before getting her law degree from Dalhousie in 1993. Source
  • Convicted sex offender escapes Kingston, Ont. correctional facility

    Canada News CTV News
    A federal prisoner convicted of sexual assault and kidnapping has escaped from a corrections facility in southern Ontario, according to police. David Maracle, 51, is said to have left the Henry Trail Community Correctional Facility in Kingston, Ont. Source
  • Houston doctors to give updates on George H.W. Bush, wife

    World News CTV News
    HOUSTON -- Doctors treating former President George H.W. Bush and his wife at a Houston hospital are set to provide an update on their conditions on Monday morning. The 92-year-old former president was struggling to breathe when he was admitted to the Houston Methodist Hospital Jan. Source
  • Repeat offender wanted on Canada-wide warrant

    Canada News Toronto Sun
    A Canada-wide warrant has been issued for a federal offender following his alleged breach of parole. Police are asking for the public’s help in locating Eamonn Patrick Copeland, who is serving a three-year sentence for weapons trafficking, possession of a firearm and trafficking in narcotics. Source
  • Officers 'shot the wrong guy'; Police responding to burglary kill homeowner

    World News Toronto Sun
    PITTSBURGH — The ex-wife of a Pittsburgh homeowner fatally shot by police responding to a burglary call says officers “shot the wrong guy.” Brenda and Christopher Thompkins were in bed when they spotted an intruder in the house at about 4 a.m. Source
  • 3 puppies found alive under avalanche-hit hotel in Italy

    World News Toronto Sun
    FARINDOLA, Italy — Rescue crews say they have found three puppies alive in the rubble of an Italian mountain hotel slammed by an avalanche. Firefighter spokesman Fabio German said the discovery signals that there are still chances of finding some of the 23 people still buried under the snow alive. Source
  • Montreal woman denied entry to U.S.; officials say protest 'not a good enough reason'

    Canada News CTV News
    A Montreal woman says she was denied permission to cross the Canada-U.S. border after telling officials she was on her way to join more than half a million protesters for the Women’s March on Washington. Source
  • Veterans, families want answers over Forces' use of Mefloquine

    Canada News Toronto Sun
    The call for accountability over the Canadian Forces’ use of a controversial anti-malaria drug is growing louder and veterans and family members hope Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will hear their cries for help. A former medic who served in Somalia, the wife of a soldier disgraced in the Somalia Affair, the mother of a soldier who killed himself in Rwanda and a doctor with expertise in the neuropsychiatric effects of Mefloquine toxicity recently submitted written statements to the Standing…
  • Stuntman killed filming gun scene for Australian music video

    World News CBC News
    An Australian actor was killed Monday while filming a scene featuring several guns for hip hop group Bliss n Eso's latest music video, police said. The man, a professional stunt double in his 20s, died at a bar in the Queensland city of Brisbane while filming a video for the song Friend Like You. Source
  • IPhone-maker Foxconn mulling U.S. factory for displays

    World News CBC News
    Foxconn, the world's largest contract electronics maker, is considering setting up a display-making plant in the United States in an investment that would exceed $7 billion US, company chairman and chief executive Terry Gou said on Sunday. Source