GUN­MAN KILLS 12 AT CAL­I­FOR­NIA BAR

Com­bat vet found dead af­ter ‘hor­rific’ at­tack, po­lice say

Orlando Sentinel - - FRONT PAGE - Staff and news ser­vices

“It’s a gun cul­ture. You can’t go to a bar or night­club? You can’t go to church or sy­n­a­gogue? It’s in­sane is the only way to de­scribe it ... It’s be­come nor­mal­ized.” Gavin New­som, Cal­i­for­nia Demo­cratic Gov­er­nor-elect

THOU­SAND OAKS, Calif. — A for­mer U.S. Marine ma­chine gun­ner who may have suf­fered from post-trau­matic stress dis­or­der burst into a bar packed with col­lege stu­dents late Wed­nes­day, tossed a smoke bomb into the crowd and opened fire, au­thor­i­ties said.

The Border­line Bar and Grill was host­ing line-danc­ing lessons for col­lege stu­dents as young as 18 Wed­nes­day night. Crowds of young peo­ple, in­clud­ing par­ties for two women cel­e­brat­ing their 21st birthdays, were drink­ing and danc­ing when the crack of gun­fire echoed through the cav­ernous room.

Eleven peo­ple were killed, in ad­di­tion to a sher­iff’s sergeant re­spond­ing to the scene who was gunned down by the as­sailant min­utes later. Eigh­teen oth­ers were in­jured, some hurt try­ing to es­cape.

The killer was iden­ti­fied as Ian David Long, 28, a vet­eran of the war in Afghanistan who was in­ter­viewed by po­lice at his home last spring af­ter an episode of ag­i­tated be­hav­ior that they were told might be PTSD.

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 pa­trons, au­thor­i­ties said. There were five off-duty of­fi­cers at the bar, of­fi­cials said.

Scream­ing in fear, pa­trons rushed for the ex­its, dove un­der ta­bles and used barstools to smash sec­ond­floor win­dows at the bar, a hang­out pop­u­lar with stu­dents from nearby Cal­i­for­nia Lutheran Uni­ver­sity and other col­leges.

“I dropped to the floor,” Sarah Rose DeSon told ABC’s “Good Morn­ing Amer­ica.” “A friend yelled, ‘Ev­ery­body down!’ We were hid­ing be­hind ta­bles try­ing to keep our­selves cov­ered.”

Nel­lie Wong, who was cel­e­brat­ing her 21st birth­day, said she “im­me­di­ately stopped mov­ing, stopped breath­ing” when she heard the gun­fire.

“Thank good­ness, he didn’t see me at all,” Wong said, who still had on a bright pink cow­boy hat and a “Happy Birth­day” sash.

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

All morn­ing, peo­ple look­ing for miss­ing friends and rel­a­tives ar­rived at a com­mu­nity cen­ter where au­thor­i­ties were in­form­ing the next-of-kin of those who died. Many walked past TV cam­eras with blank stares or tears in their eyes.

Ja­son Coff­man re­ceived news that his son Cody, 22, who was about to join the Army, was dead. Coff­man broke down as he told re­porters how his last words to his son as he went out that night were not to drink and drive and that he loved him.

“Oh, Cody, I love you, son,” Coff­man sobbed.

“Sis­ter Sis­ter” ac­tress Tam­era Mowry-Hous­ley and her hus­band said their 18-year-old niece Alaina Housely, a stu­dent at nearby Pep­per­dine Uni­ver­sity, was also among those killed.

Bren­dan Kelly, a Marine, was in­side the bar when the gun­fire erupted. It was his sec­ond mass shoot­ing. Like oth­ers at the bar, Kelly, 22, is a sur­vivor of last year’s mas­sacre in Las Ve­gas, which killed 58 peo­ple.

Wed­nes­day’s ram­page was the na­tion’s dead­li­est such at­tack since 17 stu­dents and teach­ers were killed at a Park­land, Fla., high school nine months ago. It was also the 307th mass shoot­ing in the coun­try this year, ac­cord­ing to the Gun Vi­o­lence Ar­chive, which clas­si­fies a “mass shoot­ing” as a sin­gu­lar event in which at least four peo­ple are shot, not in­clud­ing the shooter.

Demo­cratic Gov.-elect Gavin New­som lamented the vi­o­lence that has come again.

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

Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump praised po­lice for their “great brav­ery” in the at­tack and or­dered flags flown at half-staff in honor of the vic­tims.

Au­thor­i­ties con­verged on Long’s home in New­bury Park, 5 miles from the bar, in a search for clues to what set him off.

Neigh­bor­hood res­i­dents said they were well aware of his prob­lems.

Richard Berge, 77, said the for­mer Marine may have suf­fered from PTSD and was known to kick in the walls of the home.

Long lived with his mother, Berge said.

“She’s a very sweet woman, but she had a lot of prob­lems with the son,” he said.

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.

In April of­fi­cers were called to his home, where deputies found him act­ing ir­ra­tionally. A men­tal health spe­cial­ist met with him and didn’t feel he needed to be hos­pi­tal­ized, au­thor­i­ties said.

MAR­CIO JOSE SANCHEZ/AP

Mourn­ers gather at a com­mu­nity teen cen­ter Thurs­day, hours af­ter the mass shoot­ing in Thou­sand Oaks, Calif.

DAVID MC­NEW/GETTY-AFP

Fire­fight­ers raise a flag at Los Robles Re­gional Med­i­cal Cen­ter to hang over the pro­ces­sion car­ry­ing the body of Ven­tura County Sher­iff Sgt. Ron Helus, who was killed in Wed­nes­day’s shoot­ing.

Long

MAR­CIO JOSE SANCHEZ/AP

Re­becca Raede holds a sign read­ing, "We are T.O. Strong," across the street from the Thou­sand Oaks Teen Cen­ter, where rel­a­tives and friends gath­ered in the af­ter­math of the shoot­ing.

APU GOMES/GETTY-AFP

Friends hug out­side the Los Robles Re­gional Med­i­cal Cen­ter as they pay trib­ute to Ven­tura Coun­try Sher­iff Sgt. Helus.

MARK J. TERRILL/AP

Ven­tura Sher­iff ’s of­fi­cers open the way for a mo­tor­cade, car­ry­ing the body of Sgt. Helus from the med­i­cal cen­ter.

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