Fourteen victims of Islamic terror. Fourteen different stories. Fourteen reasons to mourn a senseless death.
A father of six. A free-spirit who befriended strangers in the grocery store checkout line. A mother of three who fled religious persecution in Iran. A woman who was 8 when she and her mother left Vietnam for a better life. The youngest was 26. The oldest was 60.
These are the names and stories of the 14 people killed in the San Bernardino shooting on Dec. 2, 2015. They lived across Southern California, from Los Angeles and Orange counties, in the Inland Empire and the San Bernardino Mountains that tower over the valley where the shooting occurred.
One of the victims of the terror attack, Bennetta Betbadal, fled her home in Iran after the 1979 revolution because she was being persecuted for her Christian beliefs. She came to the U.S., eventually settled in California, got married, had a family, and was living a comfortable, happy life.
Until she crossed paths with a couple of terrorists.
“It is the ultimate irony that her life would be stolen from her that day by what appears to be the same type of extremism that she fled so many years ago,” the family’s statement said.
Betbadal and her husband, a police officer at Riverside Community College, have three children, two boys and a girl ages 10, 12, and 15, the Sun reported. The couple, religious Roman Catholics, were married in March 1997.
“There is no reason for evilness,” her husband, Arlen Verdehyou, told the paper. “You just have to be strong for each other.”
Betbadal took a job as an inspector with the San Bernardino County Health Department in 2006.
“Bennetta was proud to work for the people of San Bernardino County,” the statement said. “She loved her job, her community, and her country.”
The statement said Betbadal left the house excited Wednesday morning about a presentation she planned to give to her supervisors and coworkers at their annual meeting at the Inland Regional Center.
“She decorated a beautiful Christmas tree,” her husband told the Sun.
A Gofundme account created Wednesday to help the family has already surpassed $45,000.
While Mrs. Betbadal’s story is profoundly tragic, the life history of the 13 other victims is also heart-rending. Looking at a montage of the victims, you realize they are a microcosm of America – black, white, native-born, immigrant. Their differences were not as important as what united them: a love of family and community.
Their loss should not have happened. Tashfeen Malik, a female terrorist who pledged allegiance to ISIS, breezed through the “vetting” by DHS despite her ties to a radical imam in Pakistan. Until the government gets serious about keeping terrorists out of the country, more San Bernardinos are bound to occur.