The Thousand Oaks Victims: A Student, a Deputy, a Would-Be Soldier

The Thousand Oaks Victims: A Student, a Deputy, a Would-Be Soldier
Marine combat veteran kills 12 in rampage at California bar
On Wednesday, they endured another, as 12 people were killed by shooter Ian David Long in California.

Several people inside the Borderline Bar and Grill in Thousand Oaks, Calif., were also at the Route 91 music festival last October, when gunman Stephen Paddock killed 58 and injured hundreds of others.

Dressed all in black with his hood pulled up, Long opened fire with a handgun with an illegal, extra-capacity magazine. He shot a security guard outside the bar and then went in and took aim at employees and customers, authorities said. He also used a smoke bomb, according to a law enforcement official who was not authorized to discuss the investigation publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity. He apparently killed himself as scores of police converged on the nightspot.

Video: Deadly Shooting At Bar In Southern California

Nicholas Champion was among those who survived both shootings and spoke about his experience to CBS News.

Terrified patrons who had gathered for the weekly line dancing and college night hurled barstools through windows to escape or threw their bodies protectively on top of friends as shots erupted. Twelve people were killed including Ventura County sheriffs Sgt. Ron Helus, a 29-year veteran nearing retirement who responded to reports of shots fired and was gunned down as he entered the bar.

“It’s the second time in about a year and a month that this has happened. It’s a big thing for us,” he said, explaining he was with several people who were also with him in Las Vegas.

Matt Wennerstrom said he instinctively pulled people behind a pool table, and he and friends shielded women with their bodies after hearing the shots. When the gunman paused to reload, Wennerstrom said, he and others shattered windows with barstools and helped about 30 people escape. He heard another volley of shots once he was safely outside.

In April, Champion spoke about surviving the Las Vegas shooting in an interview with Billboard Magazine.

“Firefighting has been something Ive been interested and wanted to do for a long time. Its something I had been setting myself up for, and then after the event, it really went into overdrive. What I saw and experienced at Route 91 reaffirmed that I want to be a firefighter,” he said.

In this image made from aerial video, police vehicles block an intersection in the vicinity of a shooting in Thousand Oaks, California, early Thursday, Nov. 8, 2018. Authorities say there were multiple injuries _ including one officer _ after a man opened fire in Southern California bar late Wednesday. (KABC via AP)

What we know about the gunman in the Thousand Oaks bar shooting

Another witness of the California shooting, Brendan Kelly, also said he was at the Las Vegas massacre.

"Hope has sustained communities, very much like Thousand Oaks, through the exact same triages of mass shootings," said Andy Fox, the citys outgoing mayor. "Tonight Thousand Oaks takes its place with those cities, who in order to move forward will rely on hope. we are Thousand Oaks strong."

READ MORE: After the U.S. midterm election — and another mass shooting — will there be gun reform?

Mourners react outside a reception center for families of victims of a mass shooting in Thousand Oaks, California, U.S. November 8, 2018. REUTERS/Eric Thayer The gunman, identified by police as 28-year-old Ian David Long, was found dead of an apparently self-inflicted gunshot wound following the Wednesday night massacre at Borderline Bar and Grill in Thousand Oaks, a suburb 40 miles (64 km) northwest of downtown Los Angeles, law enforcement officials said.

“Borderline was our safe space after, for lack of a better term, it was our home for the probably 30 or 45 of us who are all from the greater Ventura County area who were in Vegas.”

“He was raving hell in the house, you know, kicking holes in the walls and stuff and one of the neighbors was concerned and called the police,” Richard Berge, who lived one block away from the home, told Reuters. “They couldn’t get him to come out, so it was like a standoff for four or five hours.”

Katie Ray agreed, saying the Borderline bar was a “place of healing” for the group after the Las Vegas shooting.

Video: At least 11 injured in shooting at California bar

For many of us, it was seeing each others faces in the bar again that brought us a huge sense of relief, she said in an interview with HuffPost.

Video: Thousand Oaks: Mass shooting reported at California bar – BBC News

The Borderline bar is a popular spot for university students, and on Wednesday night was hosting College Country Night.

THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. (Reuters) – A former U.S. Marine combat veteran opened fire in a Los Angeles area bar packed with line-dancing college students, killing 12 people in a mass shooting that stunned a bucolic Southern California community with a reputation for safety.

Video: Thousand Oaks: Mass shooting reported at California bar – BBC News

California Lutheran University, located about 8 kilometres from the bar, cancelled classes on Thursday, while Pepperdine University, about 32 kilometres away, planned a prayer service.

“We will be sure to paint a picture of the state of mind of the subject and do our best to identify a motivation,” Delacourt said, adding that the FBI would investigate any possible “radicalization” or links to militant groups.

Dressed all in black with his hood pulled up, the gunman apparently took his own life as scores of police converged on the Borderline Bar and Grill in Southern California.

Ventura County Sheriffs Sgt. Ron Helus, 54, was identified as one of the 12 killed, while others still remain unaccounted for. Its estimated that 40 to 50 families were at the unification center at 1375 E. Janss Rd., hoping to hear from loved ones who may have been at the Borderline Bar & Grill when the mass shooting took place. 

Mothers cry after son survived one mass shooting to die in another: Gun control, not prayers

The killer , Ian David Long, 28, was a former machine-gunner and Afghanistan war veteran who was interviewed by police at his home last spring after an episode of agitated behaviour that authorities were told might be post-traumatic stress disorder.

A night that shouldve been filled with dancing & laughter turned tragic by senseless violence — our hearts are heavy for the people of Thousand Oaks and everyone affected by the mass shooting at the Borderline Bar, which took 12 lives including @VENTURASHERIFF Sergeant Ron Helus pic.twitter.com/7FmY3kw5mc

Opening fire with a handgun with an illegal, extra-capacity magazine, Long shot a security guard outside the bar and then went in and took aim at employees and customers, authorities said. He also used a smoke bomb, according to a law enforcement official who was not authorized to discuss the investigation publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.

The thoughts and prayers of the LAPD are with everyone tragically effected by the mass shooting in #ThousandOaks. 11 innocent people senselessly murdered, including @VENTURASHERIFF Sgt Ron Helus who was the 1st deputy on scene and heroically sacrificed his life to save others. pic.twitter.com/dXNgZxE7Tc

The dead included a man who had survived last years massacre in Las Vegas, a veteran sheriffs deputy who rushed in to confront the gunman, a 22-year-old man who planned to join the Army, a freshman at nearby Pepperdine University and a recent Cal Lutheran graduate.

….Great bravery shown by police. California Highway Patrol was on scene within 3 minutes, with first officer to enter shot numerous times. That Sheriff’s Sergeant died in the hospital. God bless all of the victims and families of the victims. Thank you to Law Enforcement.

“Its a horrific scene in there,” Ventura County Sheriff Geoff Dean said in the parking lot. “Theres blood everywhere.”

Survivors of the rampage — mostly young people who had gone out for college night at the Borderline, a hangout popular with students from nearby California Lutheran University and other schools — seemed to know what to do, having come of age in an era of active-shooter drills and deadly rampages happening with terrifying frequency.

Heartbroken over the awful tragedy and unthinkable loss of life in Thousand Oaks. Let’s agree as Americans: We cannot continue allowing gun violence to threaten our freedom and security and steal young people’s innocence and joy.

For some it was not a new experience. Survivors and their relatives said several people who were at the bar Thursday had been at the outdoor country music festival in Las Vegas last year where a gunman in a high-rise hotel killed 58 people.

Thousand Oaks bar shooting victims names and identities

“I dont want prayers. I dont want thoughts,” said Susan Schmidt-Orfanos, whose son Telemachus Orfanos survived the Vegas shooting only to die less than 10 minutes from his home. “I want those bastards in Congress — they need to pass gun control so no one else has a child that doesnt come home.”

“This is one of the safest towns in America,” he said. “Especially after Route 91, to be targeted at a small country bar in Thousand Oaks was just not what I expected. If it can happen here, it can happen anywhere.”

Many of the estimated 150 patrons at the Borderline dived under tables, ran for exits, broke through windows or hid in the attic and bathrooms, authorities and witnesses said.

These Are the Victims of the Thousand Oaks Borderline Bar Shooting in California

“Unfortunately our young people, people at nightclubs, have learned that this may happen, and they think about that,” the sheriff said. “Fortunately it helped save a lot of lives that they fled the scene so rapidly.”

He and his friend Axel Disch, 21, were all set to go Wednesday night. But earlier in the week a Monday night poker game in nearby Malibu was postponed to Wednesday night. And Wednesday night went long.

Matt Wennerstrom said he instinctively pulled people behind a pool table, and he and friends shielded women with their bodies after hearing the shots. When the gunman paused to reload, Wennerstrom said, he and others shattered windows with barstools and helped about 30 people escape. He heard another volley of shots once he was safely outside.

Once friend, he said, was  Matt Wennerstrom, who, according to reports, ushered people behind pool tables and used bar stools to smash windows, which ultimately rescued several people.

“All I wanted to do was get as many people out of there as possible,” he told KABC-TV. “I know where Im going if I die, so I was not worried.”

Kraft said that even out of the chaos he was proud of his community of friends, who he heard stepped up to save each other, breaking windows to get out — tales of heroism.

A video posted on Instagram after the shooting by one of the patrons shows an empty dance floor with the sound of windows shattering in the background. As a silhouetted figure comes through a doorway, the camera turns erratically and 10 gunshots ring out.

In April, officers responded to a disturbance at Long's home, and he was somewhat irate and acting irrationally, Dean said. A mental health specialist met with him and ultimately decided not to detain him under laws pertaining to his mental health.

“I looked him in his eyes while he killed my friends,” Dallas Knapp wrote on his post. “I hope he rots in hell for eternity.”

Neighbor Richard Berge said Long's mother told him she was concerned about her son, though not worried about her own safety, and that "she was … kind of beside herself, she didn't know what to do because he wouldn't get help."

Marine combat veteran kills 12 in crowded California bar

The tragedy left a community that is annually listed as one of the safest cities in America reeling. Shootings of any kind are extremely rare in Thousand Oaks, a city of about 130,000 people about 40 miles (64 kilometres ) from Los Angeles, just across the county line.

"I heard a gunshot, I turned around and I saw him shoot a couple more times," California Lutheran University student Teylor Whittler told KABC. "Within a split second, everybody yelled 'get down,' " she said.

Mourners gathered for a vigil on Wednesday evening as smoke from a fast-moving, nearby wildfire billowed over them.

Earlier, people stood in line for hours to give blood. All morning, people looking for missing friends and relatives arrived at a community centre where authorities and counsellors were informing the next-of-kin of those who died. Many people walked past TV cameras with blank stares or tears in their eyes. In the parking lot, some comforted each other with hugs or a pat on the back.

A neighbor told CNN that Long's mother "lived in fear" of what her son might do, saying when police were called to the house earlier this year "it took them about a half a day to get him out of the house."

Jason Coffman received the news that his son Cody, 22, who was about to join the Army, was dead. Coffman broke down as he told reporters how his last words to his son as he went out that night were not to drink and drive and that he loved him.

"This guy just came out of nowhere and came out with a gun and shot people in Thousand Oaks, California," Harrah said. "And that's what's really blowing my mind, it's a really safe area."

Gunman Kills 12 People in California Bar Shooting

It was the nations deadliest such attack since 17 students and teachers were killed at a Parkland, Florida, high school nine months ago. It also came less than two weeks after a gunman massacred 11 people at a synagogue in Pittsburgh.

Democratic Gov.-elect Gavin Newsom, in his first public appearance since winning office on Tuesday, lamented the violence that has returned to California.

“Its a gun culture,” he said. “You cant go to a bar or nightclub? You cant go to church or synagogue? Its insane is the only way to describe it. The normalization, thats the only way I can describe it. Its become normalized.”

At a news conference Thursday morning, Ventura Country Sheriff Geoff Dean said Long was found dead. Police believe he shot himself, but are not yet sure of the details that led to his death.

Chilling final Facebook post of ex-Marine with PTSD who shot up California bar

President Donald Trump praised police for their “great bravery” in the attack and ordered flags flown at half-staff in honour of the victims.

Law enforcement officials were seen outside of Long’s Thousand Oaks bar, Calif. home Wednesday morning. The sheriff said they have filed a search warrant for the residence.

First Victims in Thousand Oaks Bar Shooting Identified as Sheriffs Deputy and 22-Year-Old

Authorities searched Longs home in Newbury Park, about 5 miles from the Borderline bar, for clues to what set him off.

“Theres no indication that he targeted the employees. We havent found any correlation,” the sheriff said. “Maybe there was a motive for this particular night, but we have no information leading to that at all.”

Long was in the Marines from 2008 to 2013, rose to the rank of corporal and served in Afghanistan in 2010-11 before he was honourably discharged, the military said. Court records show he married in 2009 and was divorced in 2013.

Authorities said he had no criminal record, but in April officers were called to his home, where deputies found him angry and acting irrationally. The sheriff said officers were told he might have PTSD because of his military service. A mental health specialist met with him and didnt feel he needed to be hospitalized.

Police identified the suspect in the shooting as Ian David Long, 28. He was a student at California State University at Northridge who last attended in 2016, the school confirmed. He was also a U.S. Marine Corps veteran, according to authorities. Police had met with him earlier this year but he wasnt arrested.

Tom Hanson, 70, who lives next door to Long and his mother, said he called the police about six months ago when he heard “heavy-duty banging” and shouting coming from the Longs home.

Additional units arrived and recovered a single handgun, officials said. At least 23 others were injured in the attack, a spokesman for the Ventura County Fire Department told HuffPost. Some of the injured were rescued and taken to local hospitals, and others with minor wounds took themselves to hospitals. 

Fast-moving wildfires threaten homes in Southern California, forcing thousands to flee

“Somebody has missed something here,” his wife, Julie Hanson, said. “This woman has to know that this child needed help.”

Justin Meek, a 23-year-old graduate of California Lutheran University and reportedly the bars bouncer, died after he heroically saved lives in the incident, according to the school. Alaina Housley, the 22-year-old niece of actress Tamera Mowry-Housley, was also killed in the attack, her family said.

Long was armed with a Glock 21, a .45- calibre pistol designed to hold 10 rounds plus one in the chamber, according to the sheriff. But it had an extended magazine — one capable of holding more ammunition — that is illegal in California, Dean said.

12 killed in US bar shooting

Sheriffs Sgt. Ron Helus and a passing highway patrolman arrived at the club around 11:20 p.m. in response to several 911 calls, heard gunfire and went inside, the sheriff said. Helus was shot immediately, Dean said.

The highway patrolman pulled Helus out, then waited as a SWAT team and other officers arrived. Helus died at a hospital.

By the time officers entered the bar again — about 15 to 20 minutes later, according to the sheriffs office — the gunfire had stopped. They found 12 people dead inside, including the gunman, who was discovered in an office, the sheriff said.

“Theres no doubt that they saved lives by going in there and engaging with the suspect,” said Dean, who was set to retire Friday. He praised the slain officer — a close friend — as a hero: “He went in there to save people and paid the ultimate price.”

California mass shooting shatters Americas safest neighborhood

One other person was wounded by gunfire, and as many as 15 others suffered minor injuries from jumping out windows or diving under tables, authorities said.

A California gun law might have stopped the bar massacre. Why wasnt it used?

For several hours after the violence, survivors gathered in the dark, some sobbing and hugging as they awaited word on the fate of friends as ambulances idled nearby. Several men were bare-chested after using their shirts to plug wounds and tie tourniquets.

Marine Vet Identified as Gunman Who Killed 12 at California Bar

Around midday, the body of the slain sheriffs officer was taken by motorcade from the hospital to the coroners office. Thousands of people stood along the route or pulled over in their vehicles to watch the hearse pass.

Helus was a 29-year veteran of the force with a wife and son and planned to retire in the coming year, said the sheriff, choking back tears.

AP journalists Andrew Dalton, Amanda Lee Myers, John Antczak and Brian Melley in Los Angeles, Michelle A. Monroe in Phoenix and Michael Balsamo in Washington contributed to this report.