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Unarmed security guard was on duty during San Bernardino mass shooting

An unarmed security guard was on duty at the San Bernardino social services center where terrorism suspects Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik drove up in a black SUV, exited the vehicle equipped with masks and rifles and killed 14 people at an office holiday party, a spokeswoman for the center said Friday.

Leeza Hoyt, a public relations specialist hired by the Inland Regional Center — which serves people with developmental disabilities — said she was not sure where the guard was when Farook and Malik arrived and carried out their assault. The guard, she said, typically "roves the parking lot" of the sprawling complex.

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The attack took place at a conference center to the south of the facility's two main buildings. The killings marked the worst mass shooting in the U.S. since the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in Newtown, Conn.

Board members and top staff members at the center did not return phone calls seeking comment.

The ineffectiveness of the unarmed guard in stopping the San Bernardino assault could revive the ongoing debate over expanding armed security, be it private guards or police officers, to public places in order to cope with the wave of mass shootings in the U.S. over the past several years.

In the aftermath of the Sandy Hook shooting, which left 20 children and six adults dead, National Rifle Assn. executive vice president Wayne LaPierre called for armed police officers in every American school, declaring that "the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun."

Gun-control advocates say that restricting killers' access to firearms through tougher gun laws is a better approach.

Eileen Richey, executive director of the Assn. of Regional Center Agencies, said Inland Regional Center employees regularly undergo training on how to respond to "active shooter" scenarios.

The center's main buildings are closed to the public and locked. Richey said California's 20 other regional centers have assessed their security measures in the wake of Wednesday's shooting, but was unsure exactly what steps they had taken.

For more Southern California news, follow @petejamison. He can also be reached at peter.jamison@latimes.com.

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