Crime

San Bernardino shootings prompt Fresno regional center closure, law enforcement safety reminders

Central Valley Regional Center uses caution, closes after San Bernardino shootings

Heather Flores, Executive Director of the Central Valley Regional Center which serves Merced, Mariposa, Madera, Fresno, Tulare, Kings and Kern counties in California says the Fresno center closed its doors as a precaution Wednesday, Dec 2, 2015, a
Up Next
Heather Flores, Executive Director of the Central Valley Regional Center which serves Merced, Mariposa, Madera, Fresno, Tulare, Kings and Kern counties in California says the Fresno center closed its doors as a precaution Wednesday, Dec 2, 2015, a

The mass shooting Wednesday at a San Bernardino center serving people with developmental disabilities sparked the closure of a regional center in central Fresno and came on the same day that Fresno police conducted a “site survey” inspection of a local business to prepare for the possibility of similar violent incidents.

Additional security initially was brought in at the Central Valley Regional Center at 4615 N. Marty Ave., said executive director Heather Flores. By Wednesday afternoon, officials decided to close the center for the day out of “an abundance of caution,” she said. The center is a private, nonprofit corporation funded by the state of California to provide services to persons with developmental disabilities.

Other regional centers were on lockdown or had heightened precautions Wednesday following the shootings in San Bernardino, said Nancy Lungren, spokeswoman for the California Department of Development Services. No such steps were taken at the Porterville Developmental Center, she said.

Staff at the Central Valley Regional Center in Fresno work closely with some of the staff at the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino, Flores said. Although the shooting occurred on the center’s grounds, center staff and clients apparently were not among the victims. But the incident prompted lengthy lockdowns of nearby offices.

“Our hearts and prayers are with the victims, their families and the regional center providers and their staff and with the individuals and families that they serve,” Flores said. There are 21 regional centers in the state, and the one in San Bernardino is the largest, she said.

Wednesday’s mass shooting is a reminder that any site may be targeted for such incidents, Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer said. As recent years’ events have shown, mass shootings can happen anywhere, from shopping malls and theaters to offices and government buildings. A meat packing plant in Fresno was the site of a mass shooting three years ago when a disgruntled employee shot four co-workers before taking his own life.

Any facility can be a potential target.

Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer

“Any facility can be a potential target,” Dyer said. “We want to be in that prevention mode all the time, but also be ready to respond to these types of incidents.”

Dyer said officers from his department were out Wednesday morning at a local business conducting a “site survey” inspection for mass shooting/active shooter situations after last week’s shooting at a Planned Parenthood facility in Colorado Springs that took the lives of three people, including a police officer. He declined to identify the business.

“In communities across America, regardless of the size, there is the potential for this to happen,” he said.

The Fresno County Sheriff’s Office and Fresno Police Department have programs for teaching defensive or escape tactics for those holed up in an office or school setting to survive a mass shooting/active shooter situation.

Sheriff Margaret Mims said all department officials in Fresno County were shown a video presentation from the Department of Emergency Services in Houston.

“We gave it to all county department heads to review the video and to have some kind of plan if there is an active shooter in any county office,” she said.

Mims said sheriffs’ officials showed the video to Central Unified School District leadership and can make it available to businesses and other police departments. The sheriff’s program is called “Seconds 2 Survive,” she said.

“It’s all about what you can do in the minutes before police get there,” Mims said.

Staff writer Lewis Griswold contributed to this story. Marc Benjamin: 559-441-6166, @beebenjamin Barbara Anderson: 559-441-6310, @beehealthwriter

Related stories from Kansas City Star

  Comments