Erick Santiago, a college student from San Bernardino, lives not too far from where terror suspects carried out their deadly rampage during a holiday party last month at the Inland Regional Center.
33 percent California voters who believe another terrorist attack is very likely to occur in the near future in the state
Fourteen people were killed and 22 injured in the worst terrorist attack on U.S. soil since Sept. 11, 2001. While officials pursue charges against the Riverside man who allegedly provided the assault weapons used on Dec. 2, Santiago said he remains concerned about another terror strike happening in California.
“It seems like a trend that is going to continue,” he said.
Others living east of Los Angeles, and across the state, share his anxiety.
A new statewide Field Poll shows Californians increasingly believe similar bloodshed is very likely to occur here in the near future. One in three of the state’s registered voters think more terrorist attacks are quite probable. By comparison, just 20 percent thought an assault was forthcoming in California following the violence in New York and Washington on 9/11.
“That’s a pretty big change,” said Mark DiCamillo, director of the poll. “When the attacks occur in your own backyard it actually impacts public opinion here.”
It’s unrealistic to expect nothing to happen in the future because bad things happen.
James Negrete, poll respondent from San Bernardino
James Negrete, another poll respondent from San Bernardino, said his worry about another attack has little to do with proximity to the last horrific event. Negrete said he works a safe distance from the site of the shooting.
Negrete said his unease about more violence brought by terrorists is heightened by the fact that “there are many people in the world that don’t like America.”
“It may be ISIS, or it could be an unknown terror group,” Negrete said. “It’s unrealistic to expect nothing to happen in the future because bad things happen.”
Survey participants were only somewhat confident in the ability of federal agencies such as the FBI and CIA and others in law enforcement to thwart a major incident. The poll found just 21 percent very confident that the officials are prepared to prevent similar types of terror attacks from happening on domestic soil.
Many others, including Negrete, say they worry the U.S. government will take things too far in its attempts to institute anti-terrorism programs. Some 55 percent are concerned, or somewhat concerned, about losing their freedoms and personal liberties, up from 42 percent who felt that way in December 2001.
Negrete decried what he views as privacy abuses, and likened the collection of bulk data to allowing relentless agents in one’s backyard with listening devices.
“It is going too far,” he said, instructing officials to “get a warrant.”
Overall, the poll found 71 percent view a future attack as very or somewhat likely. DiCamillo noted voters across San Bernardino and the Inland Empire are more likely than those statewide to think such attacks are very likely to occur here. In that region, 44 percent of voters believe this to be the case. By comparison, just 21 percent of Bay Area voters felt such attacks were very likely.
Lilee Utley, a retired nurse from Corona in Riverside County, said she thinks another terrorist strike is inevitable. In the last few years, Utley has lost her husband, a U.S. Army veteran who she said served in World War II and the Korean War, as well as two sons who spent time overseas in the U.S. Air Force and Navy. The recent shooting, again, tugged at her emotions, Utley said.
“I was hurt. All those people. I pray for them all the time,” she said. “And I feel sorry for California and the United States having to go through this.”
Still, Utley said she hasn’t lost sleep over the last month.
“I’ve lived long enough. It’s not disturbing me. I am not fearful,” she said. “Because it’s going to happen anyway.”