San Bernardino residents are weary and on edge after a traumatic week

Lisa Carreno, 41, positioned herself on a street corner with sweeping views of the activities as marching bands and cadets lined up Saturday morning for the start of the 38th annual San Bernardino Family YMCA Children’s Christmas Parade, which drew a crowd of hundreds.

Wearing sunglasses and standing stock still with her hands on her hips, Carreno said, “I am on high alert: My daughter is a cadet who will be leading this parade.”

Carreno’s 14-year-old daughter was among more than a dozen students representing Indian Springs High School.

“I’m keeping track of people wearing backpacks or behaving suspiciously in any way whatsoever,” Carreno said.


Her husband, Anthony, standing next to her, said he was “watching what people were doing with their hands.”

Three days after assailants armed with assault rifles opened fire on a holiday banquet for county employees, killing 14 people and wounding 21 others, residents in this weary Inland Empire city are still struggling to establish some sense of normalcy.

Instead of the usual “Have a nice day,” adults along Saturday’s parade route, along with people throughout San Bernardino, could be overheard saying to friends and others, “You be safe today.”

Dyesha McCrumb, who was among the paradegoers, said she also was on guard.

“I’m listening and watching for signs of trouble — sirens, even helicopters in the air,” she said. “That’s because I believe police still have not gotten to the bottom of this terrorist attack.”

As additional law enforcement officers gathered in front of the parade in preparation for the start at 10 a.m., McCrumb broke into a smile and said, “Police presence. All right!

“We can still have fun,” she said, “if there are police nearby.”

On Friday night, San Bernardino police evacuated a UPS sorting facility on Victoria Avenue after a driver noticed a package addressed to the shooters’ house.

Lamont Hollis’ wife dropped him off at UPS on Saturday morning to pick up his motorcycle. The delivery driver, like other employees, was forced to leave his vehicle at work because of the suspicious package scare.

Employees could leave the facility last night only if they had someone pick them up, he said.

Hollis returned from making deliveries around 7:30 p.m. “as everything started to happen, and they started to evacuate everybody.”

“My initial thought was there’s an active shooter in the area,” said Hollis, who has worked for UPS for 21 years.

He had a gut feeling that the police response was related to Wednesday’s shooting, he said.

Hollis’ supervisor told him the police presence was a response to a suspicious package and advised him to park the UPS truck and walk down the street.

The mood was tense, he said. People were nervous.

Since Wednesday, he said, people have had “heavy hearts.” Hollis said he wasn’t scared, but everyone is “a little on edge.”

“People don’t know why this sort of thing happens,” he said. “We feel as though there’s really not a whole lot you can do.”

Employees working overnight shifts at the UPS facility walked sleepily to their cars early Saturday; drivers backed their delivery trucks into the driveway.

Victor Perez, 47, stopped by the facility briefly before going to Disneyland with his family. The longtime UPS driver was working last night when police responded to the suspicious package call.

As he approached the warehouse last night, Perez said, he saw flashing sirens. He thought the lights had come from police cars that have closed off parts of Waterman Avenue since Wednesday’s mass shooting.

“Then I saw the police were around the drivers and trucks, and I thought, ‘Oh no,’ ” he said.

Perez, of Redlands, said the company reported the package just to be safe, and perhaps out of a little bit of fear. He said he would have done the same thing if he had seen the package.

It turned out to be a delivery from Sears, he said, but “better safe than sorry.”

Since the shooting, San Bernardino has been in a sort of heightened alert, Perez said.

“Not on edge, but you’ve got to be aware of your surroundings,” he said, adding that “no one likes to go somewhere and look over their shoulder.”

“It’s not a good feeling,” he said.

Perez said he was skeptical about going to Disneyland on Saturday because of the shooting.

“You see things on the news and you think that’ll never happen here, in your backyard,” he said. “But it can happen anywhere.”

It was still dark outside when Fernandino Rodriguez, 39, parked his white van and dashed inside the Donut Hut on West Mill Street to escape the cold.

Inside, he ordered doughnuts and a large coffee from a Chinese woman who spoke broken Spanish. At the counter, he poured milk and a spoonful of sugar into the coffee cup and twirled it with a straw.

This has been his routine every Saturday for the past few years.

“I’m taking my boy fishing,” he said. “He loves it.

He said he and son are going fishing at Rancho Jurupa Park in Riverside.

The only difference on this day is that he decided to come to this doughnut shop, at the corner of D Street and Mill Street.

Rodriguez, a fence installer, said fishing is the one thing that’s familiar to him at a time when things don’t feel that way in the city.

“I’m nervous,” he said. “You hear ambulance and a fire truck sirens and you wonder: ‘What happened now?’ You’re constantly in fear.”

The father of three said he worries for his family’s safety.

He said he knows the city where he has lived for the past 16 years is not the best city right now, but this is his family’s home.

“We can’t afford to go somewhere else,” he said.

Asked whether he had any animosity toward Muslims, Rodriguez shook his head.

“They’re not all the same,” he said. “Plus, I have friends who are Muslim, and I’ve done fence work for some of them.”

Moments later, Efrain Moreno, 52, walked in and ordered coffee.

“I come here almost every day,” Moreno said.

Moreno said the shooting at the Inland Regional Center happened not far from his kitchen-cabinet business. He said his daughter was working at his business that day. He was relieved to hear she was OK when he began getting frantic calls from friends and family who were checking in on him.

Moreno said trying to live in San Bernardino after the shootings is hard.

“It doesn’t feel safe here anymore,” he said. “You have to be more vigilant now. And you feel lost. What’s going to happen to the city? What’s the future like here?”


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