SAN BERNARDINO — One minute at a time.
That’s how Trenna Meins described how she and her two daughters got through the death of her husband, who was one of the 14 people killed in the Dec. 2, 2015 terrorist attack at the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino.
Meins talked about her experiences during two Cal State San Bernardino criminal justice classes last month.
“It’s not something that you plan for. Nobody can plan for something like this. But it’s not like, ‘Alright I’m going to go ahead and go to lunch, after this I’m going to make plans to do this, and after that I’m going to call this person,’” Meins said. “This is more of, ‘OK, one minute at a time, not one step at a time, not one day at a time — this is one minute at a time.’”
Meins had not spoken about the shooting and life afterward in a public setting until visiting the criminal justice classes, invited by professor Brian Levin, who also serves as the director of the college’s Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism.
Meins talked about how the night before the shooting, her husband, Damian Meins, hadn’t planned on going to a meeting at the Center the next day because he had an inspection scheduled. Damian Meins had only recently begun working for the San Bernardino County of Environmental Health Department.
On Dec. 2, at about noon, Trenna Meins, who had stayed home from work because of the flu, heard on the radio about the shooting. Alarmed about the location, she called and left messages on her husband’s phone, but there was no answer.
Meins, accompanied by her two daughters, Tina and Tawnya, along with friends and family, later went to a reunification center set up a few blocks from the shooting. There they waited, along with the other families and friends of the people at the Center, to hear word of the shooting victims.
“They were very nice to us,” Meins said. “There were a lot of chaplains and ministers.”
As the day went on, the number of people at the center dwindled as more and more people received information about their own family members.
At about 10 p.m. they were told to come back the next afternoon as there would be no additional information that night.
Mein and her daughters “didn’t sleep much. We huddled together.”
The next day as they were getting ready to come to the reunification center, a County coroner came to her home with the news they’d feared: Damian Meins had been killed.
The next few days were filled with family, friends and colleagues visiting, attending memorial services and trying to make sense of the shooting.
Meins had met her husband in high school and they married not long after. It was a harried life for the young couple — they both worked and went to college at night while raising their two daughters.
Damian Meins started working for Riverside County in 1984 and retired in 2010, and also taught physical education at St. Catherine of Alexandria in Riverside. Trenna Meins described her husband as a good and caring man, noting that he enjoyed dressing up as Santa Claus and also as Abraham Lincoln for the school.
Since her husband’s death, Meins has advocated on bringing people together to talk about finding common sense solutions to prevent violence.
“That’s exactly what he would want us to do,” Meins said.
While she said she’s not against the U.S. Constitution’s Second Amendment, the right for citizens to bear arms, she does advocate that discussions should involve the ease that semi-automatic guns can be altered to automatic guns, ammunition that can pierce armor and increasing background checks.
“All I’d like is common sense,” Meins said.