One year after the terrorist attack in San Bernardino, California, the ABC News Investigative Unit and “Nightline” are looking back, revealing never-before-seen photos and videos and hearing from the first responders, the victims and the everyday people who prevented a terrifying day from getting any worse.
Part 1: The Attack
On a sunny December morning as the temperature pushed to 75 degrees, Lt. Mike Madden was sitting in an unmarked police car in a Target parking lot taking a phone call.
As he sat there chatting, a flurry of radio traffic was building and sounding increasingly urgent.
“Subject is still inside the business, 1365 South Waterman, it’s in building No. 3,” a female dispatcher squawked, grabbing Madden’s attention. “Possible active shooter.”
Clicking off the phone call, Madden roared his car’s engine to life.
“Lincoln Three. I will be going 97 on the south side. I need three more units, 97 on my location,” he replied, using his call sign.
Callouts about shootings are not uncommon in the area, but this was different.
The day was Dec. 2. The city was San Bernardino, California.
Two miles away, dispatchers were fielding frantic 911 calls.
“They opened the door and just started shooting inside the room,” said a female caller, in recordings obtained by ABC News.
Another caller shrieked, “We have an active shooter here.”
Madden, an administrative officer who says that he had never in his 25-year career responded to an active shooter, was racing to the scene.
“I noticed that I was driving faster and faster as I was getting closer,” Madden told ABC News’ Brian Ross. “Actually coming up on the location, I realized – I looked around – I don’t see any other cops here.”
“I think I’m the first one here.”
Pulling up, Madden saw people fleeing the complex, known as the Inland Regional Center. He jumped out of his car and took position behind the trunk to shield himself from possible incoming fire…