AFGHAN VETERAN SLAYS 12 IN BAR
Hundreds fled in terror as hooded gunman opened fire
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