MA­RINE VET KILLS 12 IN CALIF. SHOOT­ING RAM­PAGE

Ma­rine com­bat vet­eran kills 12 in South­ern Cal­i­for­nia ram­page

Chicago Sun-Times - - FRONT PAGE - BY KRYSTA FAU­RIA AND JONATHAN J. COOPER

THOU­SAND OAKS, Calif. — Ter­ri­fied pa­trons hurled barstools through win­dows to es­cape or threw their bod­ies pro­tec­tively on top of friends as a Ma­rine com­bat vet­eran killed 12 peo­ple at a coun­try mu­sic bar in an at­tack that added Thou­sand Oaks to the tragic ros­ter of Amer­i­can cities trau­ma­tized by mass shoot­ings.

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.

The mo­tive for the ram­page late Wed­nes­day night was un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

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 be­hav­ior that au­thor­i­ties were told might be post­trau­matic stress dis­or­der.

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 dead in­cluded a vet­eran sher­iff’s deputy who rushed in to con­front the gun­man, as well as a 22-year-old man who planned to join the Army, a fresh­man at nearby Pep­per­dine Univer­sity and a re­cent Cal Lutheran grad­u­ate.

“It’s a hor­rific scene in there,” Ven­tura County Sher­iff Ge­off Dean said in the park­ing lot. “There’s 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 Pitts­burgh.

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

“It’s a gun cul­ture,” he said. “You can’t go to a bar or night­club? . . . It’s in­sane is the only way to de­scribe it. The nor­mal­iza­tion, that’s the only way I can de­scribe it. It’s be­come nor­mal­ized.”

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 hon­or­ably 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 didn’t feel he needed to be hos­pi­tal­ized.

Sher­iff ’s 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 im­me­di­ately shot, Dean said.

The high­way pa­trol­man pulled Helus out, but Helus died at a hos­pi­tal.

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

“There’s no doubt that they saved lives by go­ing in there and en­gag­ing with the sus­pect,” said Dean. He praised Helus — a close friend — as a hero: “He went in there to save peo­ple and paid the ul­ti­mate price.”

ROBYN BECK/AFP/GETTY IM­AGES

In­ves­ti­ga­tors work at the scene of a mass shoot­ing at the Border­line Bar and Grill in Thou­sand Oaks, Calif. Ian David Long

Sher­iff’s Sgt. Ron Helus

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