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14 people slain in San Bernardino identified

Posted at 9:22 PM, Dec 03, 2015
and last updated 2015-12-04 06:14:58-05

A man who had worked in public health on the East and West Coasts was among the 14 people killed Wednesday in the mass shooting in San Bernardino, California.

The San Bernardino County Coroner on Thursday released the names of those killed at a health department holiday party at a government conference center. Twenty-one people were wounded in the violence.

Nicholas Thalasinos, 52, worked for the San Bernardino County Environmental Health Department. He had also worked at Cape May County’s Department of Health in New Jersey from 1988 until 2002, according to CNN affiliate WPVI.

His wife, Jenn Thalasinos, told KTLA she had a bad feeling her husband had died when she heard about the shooting.

“The waiting was excruciating because you’re trying to hold out hope,” she said.

In what appears to be a coincidence, Thalasinos posted on Facebook that he received a death threat the evening before he was killed from an “anti-Semitic” Facebook user. That man’s profile listed Ukraine as the location. Nothing on the page, however, indicated a link to Wednesday’s events.

Thalasinos referred to himself as a Zionist and often posted pro-Israel messages.

Another victim was Michael Raymond Wetzel, 37, who had six children and also worked for the San Bernardino Environmental Health Department, according to CNN affiliate KTLA.

Of the 14 killed, 12 were county employees, San Bernardino Police Chief Jarrod Burguan told reporters Thursday. Of the 21 injured, 18 were county employees. At the time of the shooting, he said, there were about 80 people in the room.

The event was a morning training session for county public health employees that was transitioning to a holiday Christmas party in the afternoon, Burguan said.

Wetzel’s wife, Renee, “wanted everybody to know he was the most amazing person she ever met. He was her best friend. He was an amazing father and was loved by all,” said Celia Behar, the Wetzel family spokesperson.

The family of a third victim, 40-year-old Robert Adams, also released a statement through a spokesperson.

“Our worst fears were confirmed today: our beloved Robert will not be coming home to us. He was a loving son, brother, husband and daddy to Savannah,” it read.

“Robert and Summer loved each other since they were teenagers. Robert always wanted to be a father and for the past 20 months, he was a devoted father to Savannah and cherished every moment with her. He and Summer and Savannah were inseparable. They were planning Savannah’s first trip to Disneyland next week.”

The Adams family asked that people remember those killed not for how they died, but for how they lived.

The other people slain have been identified as:

• Shannon Johnson, 45, Los Angeles.

• Bennetta Bet-Badal, 46, Rialto.

• Aurora Godoy, 26, San Jacinto.

• Isaac Amanios, 60, Fontana.

• Larry Kaufman, 42, Rialto.

• Harry Bowman, 46, Upland.

• Yvette Velasco, 27, Fontana.

• Sierra Clayborn, 27, Moreno Valley.

• Tin Nguyen, 31, Santa Ana.

• Juan Espinoza, 50, Highland.

• Damian Meins, 58, Riverside.

A man and woman entered the conference center at the Inland Regional Center on Wednesday morning and began firing automatic weapons at a group of environmental health department employees attending a holiday party.

Police later killed the couple, Syed Rizwan Farook and his wife, Tashfeen Malik, in a shootout. Farook was an employee of the health department and had been attending the party before he left and returned with his wife and weapons, police said.