San Bernardino Mayor: 'Retaliation Is Not The Answer'
KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:
And we are here, following the latest news in yesterday's mass shooting. As we have been reporting, police now say 14 people were killed, and 21 were wounded at a holiday party for San Bernardino County employees. The two suspects, a husband and wife, were later killed in a shootout with police. And we are standing on Waterman Avenue. It's a pretty major thoroughfare here in San Bernardino not far from where the shooting took place. And I'm here with the mayor of San Bernardino, Carey Davis. Welcome to the show. Thanks for being with us.
CAREY DAVIS: Good afternoon.
MCEVERS: I'm sure this has been a tough night and day for you. How are you doing?
DAVIS: We're - well, our city is very saddened by the loss of life. Of course, our first priority has been and will continue to be public safety. Our PD has done an excellent job of responding together with our fire department and all the other neighboring agencies that came together to partner this tragic event.
MCEVERS: I understand that last night - part of your duties last night were to be at a center where families were reuniting with people who had been inside. What were those conversations like?
DAVIS: Certainly there was a great deal of emotion. Those families that were being reunited - of course, those were happy moments for those. For those families who became aware that they had lost a loved one during that crime, they certainly were very saddened. And we felt that emotion, and we tried to provide whatever comfort we could. And we continue to mourn with those families, and we will continue to try to support them in any way that we can.
MCEVERS: You know, as a mayor, what do you say to people? I mean, what are those - what words do you use in moments like that?
DAVIS: Well, you know, I think part of that is just the compassion that - the expression of sorrow. I expressed the need, I think, for these times, to draw up on their faith and draw close with families, look to the priorities that are really important in life, make sure that we recognize the fragility of life and also to make the best of the moments we have with our families 'cause we never know when those will be our last moments.
MCEVERS: For people who are just hearing about San Bernardino for the first time - I mean, we keep saying on the radio, 60 miles east of Los Angeles, but how would you describe your city?
DAVIS: Well, if you were to, on a clear day, go up into the mountains and look down on our valley, you'd find it difficult to compare the panorama that you would see. It's tough to beat the - really, the natural beauty of our community and - which is unfortunate because it's certainly not the perception that has been portrayed in the media.
MCEVERS: But the city has struggled, of course. It's had other problems with gun violence, gang violence. What do you think needs to change to stop the violence?
DAVIS: Well, certainly, retaliation is not the answer. Crime begetting crime is certainly the opposite reaction that people need. And I believe strongly that our faith-based community has come together in the past. They will continue to come together, and they will send that message out not to become angry. Yet, we also recognize that there needs to be justice brought to bear, and those that are involved in these kinds of acts need to be brought to justice.
MCEVERS: Because these suspects were so heavily armed and justice officials have confirmed that some of them acquired their weapons legally, some people are saying that that means there should be a change in the gun laws. Do you agree with that?
DAVIS: You know, I really think that's an issue that's a dialogue to be held at the national level. Local level has...
MCEVERS: There are some mayors who are taking it on as mayors - many mayors.
DAVIS: It's just, you know - at the time that we're dealing with an issue, the important thing to stay focused on is the victims, those families. I just have a difficult time seeing how it plays in right now with what the focus needs to be.
MCEVERS: That Carey Davis. He is the mayor of San Bernardino. Thank you so much for your time.
DAVIS: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.