Former Sedalian Dr. Lynne Boone, now a psychiatry resident at Arrowhead Regional Medical Center in San Bernardino, California, experienced Wednesday’s shooting tragedy at Inland Regional Center firsthand.
The attack by a husband and wife killed 14 and injured 21. Six of those injured were reportedly taken to Arrowhead Regional Medical Center. The shooters were killed in a police shootout late Wednesday afternoon a few miles from IRC.
Boone, who was at the San Bernardino County Psychiatric Clinic, was planning to go to Arrowhead at 12:30 p.m. when she received the announcement the shootings had taken place. The clinic was immediately locked down.
“On Wednesday afternoon I split the day between the clinic and hospital,” she said by phone Thursday afternoon. “We were planning to go over there at 12:30 when I heard in the hallway that we were on lockdown. We stayed on a lockdown that went from soft to hard for about three hours.”
It was alarming for her to watch everything play out on television.
“It was eerie to watch it unfold on national TV and see the streets I travel every day become so notorious,” Boone said.
She said the people of San Bernardino are used to violence on the streets, but this was totally different.
“This is a very tough town,” she added. “We have a lot of shootings and we have a lot of gang violence. A lot of our patients are members of gangs. So, it’s not a very safe place to live; people are used to the streets not being safe. But, it’s never been on this scale.”
While on lockdown she was with friends all of different faiths.
“In lockdown I was with my friend who is Muslim, and my friend who is Buddhist, and my friend who is also a Christian,” she said. “We were in my office, kind of trapped, and wondering what was going on. My friend who is Muslim, and from India, has just been heartbroken over these events.”
Boone was never able to make it to the hospital but found out her colleagues treated some of the injured in the Arrowhead emergency room.
“My friends in the ER tended the victims,” she said. “Fellow residents (were) rounding on the patients in the ICU (Thursday). At one point we heard that there were eight in the trauma bay coming in.”
She added that Arrowhead is not a level one trauma center so they didn’t receive as many injured as neighboring Loma Linda University Medical Center.
“We don’t have a cardiothoracic surgeon,” she added. “The first report, the nurses told us when we were texting, was eight (injured) but I believe they said five (Thursday) morning.”
Boone spent Thursday helping her patients deal with the tragedy and grief.
“People are shaken, because it’s their neighborhood,” she said. “Two of my patients that I had (Thursday) morning live and their families live within a mile of the shootout. Many of our patients have been through the IRC because they provide such a comprehensive service package to intellectually and developmentally disabled children.”
She said she personally hadn’t worked at IRC but Arrowhead’s family medicine residents do rotate through the center and sometimes use the services.
“A fellow physician had just been there last week with his foster son,” Boone added.
The shooting and deaths have struck a nerve, she added, especially since they are all county employees.
“I feel very betrayed that the perpetrator was a county employee,” she said. “That’s breaking all of our hearts.”
One of the shooters, Syed Rizwan Farook, had been a San Bernardino County health inspector for five years. He and his wife Tashfeen Malik shot into a group of his co-workers in a conference room at the IRC Wednesday.
“As psychiatrists we are all very interested in mass killing sprees, and what motivates people,” Boone noted. “This does not fit any pattern that has ever been seen before. Generally mass killings in the U.S. are a white male working alone, leaving a note, often killing themselves. Multiple shooters is not anything we’ve ever studied or seen in our overviews of mass killings.”
Boone lives in San Bernardino with her husband and young daughter. As a mother she was appalled that the shooters left a infant behind.
“That also breaks my heart,” she added. “Them leaving their little baby, their 6-month-old baby. How sad.”
On Thursday, she said the atmosphere in San Bernardino “still feels unstable.”
“We are being called upon to provide crisis counseling for people,” she added. “We’re probably going to stay open in the county 24 hours for the weekend just for people who need it (and) we will deploy crisis teams to the families of the victims. The grief, I think, is just overwhelming.”
Boone is not familiar with dealing with such a tragedy after living in mid-Missouri most of her life.
“It’s odd for me,” she said. “For a small-town Sedalia girl, it’s odd for me to be so close to such a horrific tragedy.”
Boone and her husband still own a house in Sedalia and her sister Andrea Breshears still lives in the area.
Most of all she is thankful for all of those who are thinking of them in San Bernardino and praying for their city.
“We appreciate the prayers, they are giving everyone strength right now,” Boone added.
Faith Bemiss can be reached at 530-0289 or @flbemiss.