Photo Reveals Festive Mood Of Holiday Party Before San Bernardino Massacre Unfolded
LOMA LINDA (CBSLA.com) – A photo taken by one of the survivors of the San Bernardino terror attack showed the festive mood of a holiday party in the conference room at the Inland Regional Center a short time before two shooters murdered 14 people and wounded 21 others Wednesday.
The picture shows Julie Swann Paez receiving an award for excellence, another woman smiling and someone else clapping. But the joyous scene soon turned into carnage.
Paez's son Nick shared the photo with CBS2/KCAL9's Tom Wait. He told Wait about the moment he first saw his mother in the hospital. "It was a relief to see her, just that she was alive," Nick Paez said.
Before racing to the emergency room, the family did not know if Julie was among the dead.
"She sent us a picture and a text that she was shot. And that was tough because we came to the hospital and we didn't know what the outcome was going to be. We just knew that there was so many people dead in the shooting and so many people injured and there was a good chance that she was one of the dead ones because we knew for a fact that she was shot," Paez recalled.
He said his brother, father and 11-year-old sister are all by their mother's hospital bedside at Loma Linda Medical Center.
"She's cracking a little bit of jokes here and there. She's laughing and smiling. A lot of people have seen the picture I've posted on GoFundMe with her, the big smile. That's how she is," Paez said. "She's just trying to keep a smile on my little sister's face, and it's really amazing that someone could be so strong to go through all of and still be able to put smiles on other people's face."
Paez said his mother has undergone surgery and has a bullet lodged inside her. "She got shot twice in the pelvis. Both bullets actually hit her pelvis and fractured it. That's where the major damage is done."
The emotional damage could be even tougher to recover from. "She's sad because she was so close with so many of her colleagues. They ... were a family," he said.
Paez said his mother is not ready to discuss the horrors of what she witnessed. He only said that she had to be dragged out of the building because of her injuries and she had no inkling her coworker, Syed Farook, was plotting a massacre.
"There had been no issues. She said no red flags or anything like that. It was just a normal, normal guy at work," Paez said.
He said his mother will spend the next week or two at the hospital and undergo rehab for the next three months to learn to walk all over again.
A page to raise funds for Paez has been set up at gofundme.com.
for more features.