Heroes risked lives in bar killing spree

The Observer - - WORLD -

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 for­mer 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.

Pic­ture: RMG News via AP

A vic­tim is car­ried from the scene of the shoot­ing at the Border­line Bar & Grill in Thou­sand Oaks, Cal­i­for­nia

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