San Diego

‘This is The Exact Opposite of Why We Exist': San Diego Regional Center Saddened, Confused by Shooting at Sister Agency

Five San Diego and Inland Valley agencies closed their doors Wednesday and Thursday following news that at least 14 people were killed and multiple others were hospitalized Wednesday in an "active shooter" situation involving two suspects at a social services facility east of Los Angeles.

The director of the San Diego Regional Center broke down in tears when talking about a San Bernardino County shooting at the center’s sister agency, saying it was difficult to understand why something like this would happen.

“We’re a social service agency. We do this because we love, we want to help,” said Carlos Flores in an interview with NBC San Diego. “This is the antithesis; this is the exact opposite of why we exist,” said Flores. “It’s really hard to understand.”

The Imperial County center is the largest in the region, serving 31,000. Flores' facility is the second largest, serving 24,000.

The shooting was reported inside a center that serves people with developmental disabilities in the 1300 block of S. Waterman Avenue in San Bernardino, said Lt. Richard Lawhead of the San Bernardino Police Department. Two suspected shooters -- a man and a woman -- were later killed in a shootout with police

Members of the San Diego FBI office responded to aid the situation, officials confirm.

"The FBI is responding to the reported shooting incident in San Bernardino with resources to assist our partners. No further information is currently available. San Bernardino law enforcement officials have the lead on this incident at this time," the FBI said in a statement.

When he heard about the shooting, Flores said he was not taking a chance. He sent all 485 workers home from the Ruffin Road location immediately. 

Flores said the employees at his office worked closely with those up in San Bernardino, an inland community approximately an hour and a half north of San Diego. The San Diego center is not affiliated with the San Bernardino center, but they work closely together because they share a border and transfer cases back and forth.

“This is a very very close knit family across the 21 regions,” Flores said. “And this tragedy has affected one of our family members and we are all in grief.”

Flores said he worries he may know some of the dead. 

"I know a lot of people there, close friends," Flores said. "If they're dead, how do you deal with that? How do you deal with the thought that this could happen to 400 people you work with and love?"

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