WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama plans to meet with families of victims of the mass shooting in San Bernardino, California, the White House said Wednesday.
The meeting is set for Friday. Obama is adding the stop in Southern California to a long-scheduled trip to Hawaii for Christmas vacation.
Fourteen people were killed and 21 others were injured at a workplace holiday party in San Bernardino on Dec. 2 by a gun-wielding husband-and-wife team. Federal authorities say the pair had become self-radicalized in the years before Syed Rizwan Farook, 28, and his wife, Tashfeen Malik, 29, opened fire on Farook’s co-workers. The couple was killed during a subsequent shootout with police.
During a televised address in the tense days after the shootings, Obama said authorities had found no evidence that the American-born Farook and his Pakistani wife had carried out instructions from an overseas-based terrorist organization or that they were part of a broader conspiracy based in the U.S.
“But it is clear that the two of them had gone down the dark path of radicalization, embracing a perverted interpretation of Islam that calls for war against America and the West,” Obama said from the Oval Office. “So this was an act of terrorism, designed to kill innocent people.”
The California shootings closely followed the Nov. 13 attack on Paris that left 130 people dead. The Islamic State group has claimed responsibility for that attack.
Both attacks have heightened public fears of future attacks on U.S. soil, concerns that Obama has tried to allay with the rare Oval Office address on administration efforts to counter the threat posed by the Islamic State group, as well as a series of public appearances by the president this week.
Obama met with his national security team at the Pentagon on Monday, instead of the usual location in the White House Situation Room. He followed the meeting with a public update on the effort to counter IS. Obama also plans to visit to the National Counterterrorism Center in suburban Virginia on Thursday for an annual, pre-holiday briefing that in past years has taken place at the White House.
The pair of attacks has also led to calls for tighter visa screenings for people entering the U.S. and for the immigrant brides-to-be of American citizens. Malik came to the U.S. in 2014 on a K-1, or fiancee visa. Obama has also called on Congress to pass legislation to block firearm sales to people whose names are on the federal no-fly list for air travel.
Obama has vowed to call for new gun-control measures after every mass shooting. The White House is considering acting to expand gun background checks without congressional approval.
Obama senior adviser Valerie Jarrett said last week that the president has asked his team for a proposal soon. She said the recommendations will include measures to expand background checks.
Friday’s stop will be the latest in a grim ritual Obama has performed since taking office: visiting communities stricken by deadly mass shootings to offer solace to grieving relatives and friends.
Most recently, in October, Obama met privately with families of the victims after a student gunman killed eight students and a teacher at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon, before turning the gun on himself.