The offices of the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino, California, where 14 people were killed in a terror attack in early December, reopened Monday.
Six hundred employees returned to offices that had been frozen in time. Tinsel still hung on the office cubicles. A small Christmas tree had unopened presents underneath.
Security guards checked badges as people filed into work past a chain link security fence that was not there before the shooting and will remain up indefinitely.
“Most of us are relieved to be back at work. We want to continue with the normalcy, and we miss each other very much,'' Executive Director Lavinia Johnson told reporters. "We want to ensure that our staff feels safe and secure as they work in their offices.''
Center employees have been working from home in the interim, serving clients with developmental disabilities. Therapists have visited autistic children and mentally disabled adults at their homes.
For the annual toy drive in late December, regional center staffers worked with a homecare service to deliver toys to needy families rather than distribute them at the center.
San Bernardino County's health department had rented the center’s conference building for a holiday party on December 2, when Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik opened fire on the partiers.
Farook was a county restaurant inspector and the people he shot were his co-workers. Fourteen were killed and 22 were wounded. Farook and Malik later died in a shootout with police.
The conference building is the only part of the campus that will not reopen Monday.
While the hum of activity once again pervades the center, for the first week back, no patients will visit. Instead, therapists and social workers will be the ones taken care of. Counselors are on site to speak with them about their feelings in the wake of the terror attack.
"Just be together again,'' Johnson said, "share where they're at.''