SAN BERNARDINO >> “Walking in the building, you could still smell the gunpowder,” said San Bernardino police Officer Robert Snyder.
He and dozens of first responders had raced to North Park Elementary School that sunny spring day where they found a horrifying scene inside Classroom B1. A teacher’s estranged husband had shot her and two children before killing himself.
Synder had seen other tragedies during his police career, but this one deeply affected him.
“For me, this was worse than the terror attack at the (Inland Regional Center) because of the kids,” he said. “When I arrived on scene at North Park, I immediately put on body armor and was directed to the classroom.”
Snyder went directly to the side of 8-year-old Jonathan Martinez, who had been shot in the head by Cedric Anderson, of Riverside. Anderson also fatally shot his wife, special education teacher Karen Smith.
“Jonathan was still breathing, although he had significant injuries, and I just didn’t leave his side,” Snyder said. “Once the helicopter landed, I stayed with him all the way to the hospital.”
The boy didn’t make it: He was pronounced dead at Loma Linda University Medical Center almost immediately after he arrived.
“It was hard for everyone,” Snyder said, tears welling in his eyes. “Most of us, including the hospital staff, are parents, so something like this is extremely difficult to deal with.”
The crew that flew in and landed on school grounds to take victims to the hospital is part of an aviation team made up of San Bernardino County firefighters and sheriff’s deputies.
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