Heroes risked lives in bar killing spree
COLLEGE students out for a good time and a veteran patrolman became heroes during a shooting at a country music bar near Los Angeles after pulling people to safety and rushing into the gunfire.
Many of the scores of young people regularly went to Borderline Bar & Grill in Thousand Oaks, California, where a gunman stormed in on Wednesday and opened fire, killing 12 people before killing himself.
“It was just a normal Wednesday night, just having a good time,” said Moorpark College freshman Cole Knapp, who suddenly heard a loud bang he initially dismissed as a prankster setting off a firecracker. Then he looked up and saw a man in a black hoodie holding a gun.
“I tried to get as many people to cover as I could,” Mr Knapp said, adding he warned people on a smokers’ patio outside of the danger before climbing with them over a fence.
California State University student Matt Wennerstrom, 20, said he grabbed as many nearby people as he could and dragged them beneath a pool table until the gunman stopped to reload.
The student then joined others in using bar stools to smash a window and began “shuffling as many people out as possible”.
Sergeant Ron Helus, a 29year Ventura County veteran nearing retirement, was the first law enforcement officer to enter the bar.
He ran in and was shot multiple times in an exchange of gunfire, said Sheriff Geoff Dean, who added that the confrontation gave other patrons time to escape. Sgt Helus was taken to a hospital where he died yesterday morning.
“Ron was a hardworking, dedicated sheriff’s sergeant who was totally committed,” Sheriff Dean said. “And tonight, as I told his wife, he died a hero.”
Hundreds of people lined the streets yesterday to pay their respects as his body was taken by motorcade from the hospital to the coroner’s office. The gunman has been identified as 28-year-old Ian David Long, a divorced for- mer military machine gunner who had been living with his mum in Thousand Oaks.
Long enlisted in the US Marines at 18 and was married a year later in June 2009, according to military and court records. During his military service, his marriage fell apart and he and his wife separated in June 2011.
He was honourably discharged in 2013, the Pentagon said.
Long’s neighbours said they would hear loud, aggressive fights between Long and his mother.