Air Force One touched down at San Bernardino International Airport around 7:40 p.m. on Friday night before President Barack Obama and the First Lady drove to Indian Springs High School where they met with families of the 14 victims from the December 2 terrorist attack carried out by radicalized Islamists Syed Rizwan Farook, 28 and his wife Tashfeen Malik, 29.
The meeting, which lasted for approximately three hours, was a stop en route to the Obamas’ annual holiday vacation in the president’s home state of Hawaii.
“It was so moving for Michelle and myself in part because it was so representative of the country,” President Obama told reporters after meeting with the families. “You had people from every background, every faith … Despite the pain and the heartache that they’re feeling, they could not have been more inspiring, and more proud of their loved ones, and more insistent that something good comes out of this tragedy.”
The Obamas were greeted by San Bernardino Mayor Carey Davis and chairman of the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors James Ramos at the airport before heading to the high school.
The meeting took place in the school’s library. The Los Angeles Times notes 14 tables were arranged and that the Obamas went from table to table, speaking quietly with each family. They reportedly boarded Air Force One around 11:05 p.m.
In a private, off-the-record meeting with members of the press this week, Obama admitted he was out of touch with public sentiment over the terrorist attack which may have diminished his grasp on the situation. An article in the New York Times had originally written, “Mr. Obama indicated that he did not see enough cable television to fully appreciate the anxiety after the attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, and made clear that he plans to step up his public arguments.”
On Thursday, authorities arrested and charged Farook’s childhood friend and neighbor Enrique Marquez with conspiring to provide material support from crimes of terrorism as the FBI continues to investigate the terror attack which also left 22 people injured.
Marquez had purchased two AR-15 variants that were used by Farook and Malik to carry out their murderous crime spree. Several pipe bombs were also going to be detonated by the terrorists and materials for even more were revealed during a search of their home, which may have indicated their plans to carry out more attacks down the line.
Sisters Gloria Lerma and Linda Mendoza had reportedly watched as the Obamas drove by Friday evening. “This isn’t New York or L.A. or Boston,” Lerma said according to the Times. “I never expected a terrorist to be living in my community.”