MARINE VET KILLS 12 IN CALIF. SHOOTING RAMPAGE
Marine combat veteran kills 12 in Southern California rampage
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.”
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