In the wake of a mass shooting in San Bernardino that killed at least 14 people, Gov. Jerry Brown canceled Wednesday’s annual Christmas tree lighting ceremony at the Capitol.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims’ families and everyone affected by the brutal attack,” Brown said in a statement. “California will spare no effort in bringing these killers to justice.”
The tree was still illuminated, albeit in much more subdued fashion: As workers packed up hundreds of plastic folding chairs, a crowd of several dozen gathered to watch 9-year-old J.J. Paris of Sonora assume lighting duties from Brown.
Shortly after 5 p.m., the spectators counted down from 10 and Paris pressed a button to turn on the tree’s 10,000 LED lights. He got it on the second try.
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“It was awesome,” Paris said. “I didn’t know I had fans.”
Earlier in the afternoon, Paris, who has an autism spectrum disorder and was representing the nearly 300,000 children and adults with developmental disabilities that receive services from California’s 21 regional centers, met with Brown for cookies and hot chocolate. He presented the governor with a painting of a Christmas wreath made from the handprints of the students in his fourth-grade class.
The shooting in San Bernardino, which also left at least 17 people injured, occurred at the regional center that serves Riverside and San Bernardino counties. Officials are still unsure of the motives for the attack.