California — U.S. President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle Obama visited the families of the 14 victims killed during the San Bernardino shooting on December 2. The gathering took place on Friday night inside Indian Springs High School’s library.
The presidential family spent about 10 minutes with each of the families, which were located on separate tables. The most noticeable interaction of the night, however, was with Mandy Pifer, the girlfriend of 45-year old Shannon Johnson, one of the victims killed on the shooting, as Obama immediately offered her a hug saying that “words aren’t enough.”
The woman, who described her interaction with the president as comforting, told the Obama couple stories about her boyfriend’s life. The conversation eventually got to the point of Johnson’s last moments when, according to his colleague Denise Peraza — a survivor of the attack — the man had protected her, holding her close under a table while saying “I got you,” a phrase that quickly spread through social media and became a hashtag following the news of the shooting.
In fact, Pifer brought a #IGotYou sign to the meeting, words that the president was able to recognize when the woman expressed them to him.
Both Pifer and Peraza are currently working on the planning for a foundation to honor Johnson’s memory. The former said that she felt the president was on her side, and that he would keep working to make the situation better even after leaving office, since it was “personal” for them —the Obamas.
“As difficult as this time is for them and for the entire community, they’re also representative of the strength and the unity and the love that exists in this community and in this country,” said Obama in regards to the families present in the gathering. He and his wife also promised to support Pifer and her project in any way they could.
This isn’t the first time the presidential family has had to attend to these kinds of gatherings, as there had been a significant number of terrorist attacks and shootings across 2015. Back in October, Obama met with the families of people killed on a shooting started by a student who killed himself after taking the life of eight classmates and a teacher.
The shooting in San Bernardino claimed the life of nine men and five women of different ages, from 26 to 60. The perpetrators were a couple: 28-year-old Syed Rizwan Farook and his wife Tashfeen Malik, a 29-year-old Pakistani woman.
According to FBI’s investigations, both attackers pledged allegiance to an IS leader on Facebook before committing the crime, so the case is being treated as an act of terrorism, although authorities haven’t found evidence that the couple was part of a local conspiracy group following instructions from a foreigner terror organization.
Source: The Star