US officials have said at least 14 people have been killed by assailants in a shooting at a social services center in San Bernardino, California. At least two suspects have been killed by police.
The shooting took place in a facility at the social services center around 11 a.m. local time (1900 UTC) on Wednesday, about 100 kilometers (60 miles) east of Los Angeles. Police confirmed that at least 14 people had died at the scene at the Inland Regional Center, a provider of social services under contract by the state.
At least 17 further people have been reported injured. The Federal Bureau of Investigation says it's possible that the shooting would be considered "terrorism."
Lavinia Johnson, executive director of the facility, told CNN the suspects opened fire inside a conference building in the complex where a holiday party was being held for staff.
Officers tracked a dark-colored SUV that matched the description given by witnesses to the assailants' escape about 3 kilometers away.
A shootout ensued killing two suspects - a man and a woman - San Bernardino Police Chief Jarrod Burguan said. An officer was injured in the confrontation.
The Los Angeles Times newspaper and NBC-TV broadcaster have identified the man as Syed Farook, which public records list as a county employee in the health department. Unnamed law enforcement officials said Farook was a US citizen.
A third suspect was seen running near the police gunbattle is now in custody but authorities are not certain the person was involved in the killings, the chief added.
Authorities have yet to declare a motive in the shooting, but there have been reports of a connection to an individual in attendance in the conference room, and the shooters reportedly wore "assault-style clothing."
"We have no information at this point that this is terrorist-related, in the traditional sense that people may be thinking," Burguan said earlier. "Obviously, at minimum, we have a domestic-type terrorist-type situation that occurred here."
Federal authorities said a bomb squad had also been dispatched to "immobilize what's believed to be explosive device" and that the FBI was investigating.
Meanwhile, officers are serving a search warrant on a home in the nearby city of Redlands and conducting door-to-door searches of the area.
The incident marks the deadliest US gun violence since the shootings atSandy Hook Elementary School
in Newtown, Connecticut, in December 2012, in which 27 people, including the gunman, were killed.
President calls for action against gun violence
US President Barack Obama made an impassioned appeal for legislation restricting firearms this fall following a mass shooting that killed 13 people at a community college in southern Oregon.
US President Barack Obama hascalled for a bipartisan effort to address the issue of mass shootings.
"We don't yet know what the motives of the shooters are, but what we do know is there are steps we can take to make Americans safer and that we should come together in a bipartisan basis at every level of government to make these rare as opposed to normal," he said.
California Gov. Jerry Brown called the shooting a brutal attack and said in a statement that "Californiawill spare no effort in bringing these killers to justice."
The shooting came just days aftera lone gunman killed three people
during a standoff at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado.
ksb,ss,jar/rc,gsw (Reuters, AP, AFP, dpa)