Hun­dreds fled in ter­ror as hooded gun­man opened fire

The Daily Telegraph (Sydney) - - World -

The hooded gun­man who killed 12 peo­ple at a Cal­i­for­nia bar and left scores in­jured was a for­mer US Marine with men­tal health prob­lems.

Neigh­bours said killer Ian David Long, 28, had suf­fered from post trau­matic stress dis­or­der af­ter serv­ing in Afghanistan.

Rev­ellers had been linedanc­ing when, dressed all in black, Long walked into the Border­line Bar and Grill in Thou­sand Oaks, 65km west of Los An­ge­les, let off a smoke de­vice and opened fire at least 30 times.

Long first shot the cashier on the front desk, be­fore con­tin­u­ing the ram­page in the bar’s of­fice and then mov­ing onto the dance floor. Af­ter gun­ning down many of those he passed, he turned the .45 Glock hand­gun on him­self.

Di­vorced Long (pic­tured) had risen to the rank of cor­po­ral dur­ing his time in the army where he had spe­cialised as a ma­chine-gun­ner.

He spent eight months in Afghanistan and served in the Marine Corps from 2008 to 2013.

Yes­ter­day it emerged that po­lice had vis­ited Long’s home in April but had not taken him into cus­tody de­spite of­fi­cers say­ing he had be­haved in an “irate” way and “er­rat­i­cally”.

One bar-goer, Coel Knapp, 19, said he saw Long walk in and pay an en­try fee be­fore pulling out a gun and re­peat­edly shoot­ing the young woman at the counter.

“It took a cou­ple of sec­onds for peo­ple to re­alise what was go­ing on and once that hap­pened it was just ut­ter chaos,” he said.

An­other wit­ness told tele­vi­sion crews: “I watched an of­fi­cer get shot in front of me. I had to help drag him and throw him in the back of the car.”

Sher­iff’s sergeant Ron Helus, 54, was shot as he ran to­wards the Border­line Bar, and died in hos­pi­tal.

Ven­tura County Sher­iff Ge­off Dean said Helus had been plan­ning to re­tire in a year. Hold­ing back tears, he said the town had “lost a hero”, adding: “He went in there to save peo­ple and made the ul­ti­mate sac­ri­fice. He ran into dan­ger — he didn’t walk.”

When the car­nage erupted at the Border­line, many tried to flee, with some jump­ing from win­dows while oth­ers smashed their way out us­ing chairs.

Matt Wen­ner­strom said he 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 and oth­ers shat­tered win­dows with barstools and helped about 30 peo­ple es­cape. He heard an­other vol­ley of shots once he was out­side. “All I wanted to do was get as many peo­ple out of there as pos­si­ble,” he told KABC-TV. Some of the 200 peo­ple in­side hid in the bar’s at­tic while they waited for gun­fire to end. Sher­iff Dean told re­porters: “It is a hor­rific scene in there. There is blood ev­ery­where.”

Bar pa­trons carry a vic­tim from the scene. Pic­ture: AP

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