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San Bernardino Shooting Victim Fled Islamic Extremism In Iran At 18

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Rachel Stoltzfoos Staff Reporter

One of the San Bernardino shooting victims is a Christian woman who fled Iran when she was 18 to escape Islamic extremism.

Bennetta Betbadal, 46, moved to the United States and initially settled in New York City before moving to California and getting married to a police officer, Arlen Verdehyou, and having three children. She graduated from California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, with a degree in Chemistry and got a job as an inspector for the San Bernardino County Health Department.

Betbadal is among the 14 killed Wednesday at the Inland Regional Center, a state-run facility for individuals with developmental disabilities, by a husband and wife who are Islamic extremists. (RELATED: San Bernardino Shooter Pledged Allegiance To ISIS On Facebook)

Syed Rizwan Farook is the son of Pakistani immigrants and a U.S. citizen. His Pakistani wife reportedly came to the United States on a fiance visa and then became a legal permanent resident, after they met in person on Farook’s Hajj pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia in 2013. (RELATED: Many U.S. ‘Citizen Terrorists’ Are Also Legal Immigrants)

“Bennetta left the house Wednesday morning, excited about a presentation she was scheduled to give to her supervisors and coworkers at their annual meeting,” her family says in a statement following the shooting. “It is the ultimate irony that her life would be stolen from her that day by what appears to be the same type of extremism that she fled so many years ago.”

Farook worked with the San Bernardino County Health Department, which was hosting a holiday party when the shooting took place Wednesday. He was at the party, but left angry and returned with his wife 20 minutes later, carrying rifles and semi-automatic handguns. (RELATED: Here’s Everything We Know About The San Bernardino Shooting)

Bedbadal’s husband tells the Sun he and his wife texted each other early Wednesday, and he told her he was going Christmas shopping and to have a great day. “She decorated a beautiful Christmas tree,” he says. The family held out hope for her when they learned of the shooting, but were informed of her death later that day when the coroner showed up.

Betbadal leaves behind a daughter, 15, and two boys, ages 10 and 12. A Gofundme account is set up in her memorial with a goal of $50,000 in donations to support her family.

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