When he heard about a shooting taking place in his hometown of San Bernardino, California, campus sophomore Jay Jung’s first thoughts went to his mother, who worked across the street from where the massacre occurred.
After a phone call home shortly after, he confirmed that she was safe. Others in San Bernardino, however, were not as lucky as Jung’s mother.
The shooting Dec. 2, now considered a terrorist attack by the FBI, killed 14 people and injured 21 more, sparking conversations nationwide about gun rights and the treatment of Muslim Americans.
But for Jung, the major national news story is an experience that hit close to home.
“It’s weird hearing of an active shooter situation and being able to recreate these scenes from memory alone,” Jung said. “Seeing it on Facebook trending, it’s like, ‘Whoa, that’s my town.’”
Campus freshman Kate Scorziell, originally from the area near the attack, said the past couple weeks have been surreal. Although she lived in neighboring Lake Arrowhead, California, before moving to Berkeley, her family was also impacted by the shooting.
One of the victims’ sons played soccer with her brother, and another victim worked in the same building as her uncle. She and other members of her community have yet to come to terms with the full effects of the attack, Scorziell said.
“I don’t think I’ve fully experienced the effects of it,” Scorziell said. “You see all your friends from home posting about it, you think it’s just them, you don’t expect it to be everyone (affected).”
Hearing the debate about gun control after the shooting, Scorziell said she hopes discussing the topic will result in action rather than the issue quieting over time.
“Definitely, there needs to be some sort of change in gun control,” Scorziell said. “Obviously whatever’s going on right now isn’t working, seeing as there hasn’t been a week since 2013 without a shooting.”
On Monday night, California State University San Bernardino held a candlelight vigil for the community, marking the start of the healing process, according to CSUSB’s head of the Arabic program Dany Doueiri. During the vigil, a nearby clock tower rang its bells 14 times, once for each of victims, five of whom were CSUSB alumni.
“(The shooting) was obviously something that affected our campus,” said CSUSB spokesperson Joe Gutierrez. “Five of them were ours.”
Doueiri was one of 10 speakers at the vigil and was asked to give the Muslim community’s perspective on the event. Though the campus has been proactive about protecting its students — and there have been no retaliations — Doueiri said some of his students have since expressed fear of studying Islamic culture and related languages in light of the attack.
The vigil, however, helped bridge the gaps in perspectives among members of the community, Doueiri said.
“I couldn’t think of a better way, in terms of immediate action, to do a vigil,” Doueiri said. “To have members of different communities to get together and mourn together and express their concerns, not only for the victims … but the concerns of the community at large.”
From an outsider’s perspective, the attack may seem like San Bernardino’s biggest and most pressing issue for the years to come, Doueiri said. For local residents, however, Doueiri said the shooting marks one of many troubles the city already faces, such as poverty, gangs and bankruptcy.
For Jung, no one can understand the complexities and struggles of his town without having lived there. He said he has seen people falsely claiming connections to San Bernardino because it’s a trending topic, even though he’s seen the same people call the city a “ghetto.”
In the days to come, Jung said the community needs to solve these problems for itself rather than allow the national media and politicians to dictate the conversation entirely.
Far away from the attack yet surrounded by the media’s coverage of the shooting, Jung said he feels disconnected from his community. In the aftermath of the shooting, Jung has recently started spending time with his friends from back home who also attend UC Berkeley.
“Being away makes it difficult to get involved in a way that’s helpful. It does make me feel distant from the community,” Jung said. “(The experience has) made me want to meet up with other students who are from my hometown so that I could be with people with a similar perspective.”