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Obama Calls California Victims' Families Inspiring


President Barack Obama delivers a statement at Indian Springs High School after meeting with families affected by the shootings in San Bernardino, Calif., Dec. 18, 2015.

President Barack Obama delivers a statement at Indian Springs High School after meeting with families affected by the shootings in San Bernardino, Calif., Dec. 18, 2015.

U.S. President Barack Obama praised the families of the victims of the December 2 mass shooting in San Bernardino, California, calling them a diverse group, representative of the diversity of the nation.

Obama called the meeting Friday “moving” and said the families were “inspiring,” and were “insistent that something good come of this tragedy.”

Obama and first lady Michelle Obama were greeted by local officials at San Bernardino airport, then made the 10-minute journey to a high school for a private meeting with the families and first responders.

State of emergency

Just hours earlier, California Governor Jerry Brown had declared a state of emergency in San Bernardino County, freeing state funds so that local government can deal with the aftermath of the violence.

FILE - San Bernardino County employees hold up photos of the San Bernardino shooting victims during a candlelight vigil on Dec. 7, 2015, in San Bernardino, Calif.

FILE - San Bernardino County employees hold up photos of the San Bernardino shooting victims during a candlelight vigil on Dec. 7, 2015, in San Bernardino, Calif.

The shootings took place in a rented conference room, as U.S.-born Syed Rizwan Farook and his Pakistan-born wife, Tashfeen Malik, opened fire at a holiday meeting of Farook's co-workers from the San Bernardino County Health Department.

Fourteen people were killed and 22 others were wounded in the attack. The couple were killed hours later in a police shootout.

The Islamic State group has claimed that the two were supporters, but not members, of the group.

James Comey, director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, said Wednesday that the pair had discussed their commitment to extremist violence in private communications in 2013.

President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama arrive in San Bernardino, California, to meet with the families of victims of a recent mass shooting incident, Dec. 18, 2015.

President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama arrive in San Bernardino, California, to meet with the families of victims of a recent mass shooting incident, Dec. 18, 2015.

Malik was living in Pakistan and entered the United States on a fiancee visa last year.

Friend of shooters

Authorities on Thursday charged a childhood friend of Farook's, 24-year-old Enrique Marquez Jr., with conspiring to provide material support for terrorists for his alleged involvement in an aborted plot to stage terrorist attacks with Farook in 2011-12.

Officials said Marquez purchased the guns and explosives used in the recent attack in connection with the earlier plans, which Marquez abandoned after authorities made unrelated arrests in another terror plot.

An undated combination of California Department of Motor Vehicles photos shows Tashfeen Malik, left, and Syed Farook, the husband and wife who died in a gunbattle with authorities after a mass shooting in San Bernardino, Calif., Dec. 2, 2015.

An undated combination of California Department of Motor Vehicles photos shows Tashfeen Malik, left, and Syed Farook, the husband and wife who died in a gunbattle with authorities after a mass shooting in San Bernardino, Calif., Dec. 2, 2015.

A government affidavit said Marquez, who had converted to Islam at age 16 and once shared Farook's extremist views, engaged in a sham marriage to a member of Malik's extended family.

Marquez faces a possible sentence of 35 years in prison if convicted.

Obama, en route to Hawaii for a two-week vacation, told reporters before he left Washington earlier Friday that Americans must be vigilant at home as the United States works with its allies against the Islamic State group.

Republican presidential candidates criticized the Obama administration during their debate in Las Vegas Tuesday for failing to block Malik's entry to the United States.

The president said Friday that intelligence and law enforcement officials monitor online public posts as part of their visa review process, but not private communications.

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