Cal­i­for­nia mas­sacre

Mo­tive un­clear; re­spond­ing of­fi­cer is among the vic­tims

The Arizona Republic - - Front Page - Doug Stan­glin and Joe Cur­ley

A 28-year-old com­bat vet­eran opened fire in a South­ern Cal­i­for­nia coun­try-mu­sic dance bar Wed­nes­day dur­ing col­lege night, killing 12 be­fore fa­tally turn­ing the gun on him­self.

Hun­dreds fled the Border­line Bar and Grill in Thou­sand Oaks in ter­ror.

Po­lice iden­ti­fied the gun­man as Marine vet­eran Ian David Long, who saw ac­tion in Afghanistan and earned sev­eral mil­i­tary awards. Among the vic­tims was a sher­iff ’s sergeant who died at a hos­pi­tal early Thurs­day.

In Ari­zona, Gov. Doug Ducey or­dered flags at all state build­ings to be low­ered to half-staff in honor and re­mem­brance of vic­tims. Flags will re­main at half-staff un­til sun­set Sat­ur­day.

THOU­SAND OAKS, Calif. – A tall, hooded gun­man dressed in black and cov­er­ing his face with a ban­danna opened fire late Wed­nes­day dur­ing Col­lege Night at a crowded coun­try dance bar in South­ern Cal­i­for­nia. He killed 12 peo­ple, in­clud­ing a sher­iff’s sergeant.

Ven­tura County Sher­iff Ge­off Dean iden­ti­fied the gun­man, who killed him­self af­ter the at­tack, as Ian David Long, 28, a Marine vet­eran, from New­bury Park, a town in­side the Thou­sand Oaks city lim­its.

The vi­o­lence erupted at the Border­line Bar and Grill, a coun­try west­ern dance bar in Thou­sand Oaks, about 40 miles west of Los An­ge­les. Hun­dreds of peo­ple fled in ter­ror, in­clud­ing some who used bar stools to break win­dows and es­cape.

“It’s a hor­rific scene in there,” said Dean, who choked up at one point while speak­ing to re­porters in the bar’s park­ing lot. “There’s blood ev­ery­where.”

The sher­iff said po­lice have had “sev­eral con­tacts” with Long in re­cent years. Most no­tably, po­lice said, he was “an­gry and act­ing a lit­tle ir­ra­tionally” when a men­tal health cri­sis team was called to his home ear­lier this year to in­ves­ti­gate a dis­tur­bance. The team con­cluded Long did not need to be taken into cus­tody, he said.

In ad­di­tion, Long was listed as the vic­tim in a bar skir­mish three years ago, Dean said.

Paul Dela­court, as­sis­tant di­rec­tor of the FBI’s Los An­ge­les field of­fice, said the crime scene, the gun­man’s home and car were be­ing pro­cessed for ev­i­dence. But he said it was too early to de­ter­mine a mo­tive for the shoot­ings.

“We’re hop­ing to paint a pic­ture of the state of mind of the sus­pect,” Dela­court said.

A Marine cor­po­ral, Long served from 2008 to 2013, in­clud­ing a seven-month

“It’s a hor­rific scene in there. There’s blood ev­ery­where.”

Ge­off Dean

Ven­tura County sher­iff

tour in Afghanistan, ac­cord­ing to Marine Corps records. Long earned sev­eral awards, in­clud­ing a Com­bat Ac­tion Rib­bon and a Marine Corps Good Con­duct Medal.

In the late-night shoot­ing, the sus­pect was armed with a legally pur­chased Glock 21 .45-cal­iber hand­gun de­signed to hold 10 rounds plus one in the cham­ber. But the sher­iff said the gun had an ex­tended mag­a­zine that is il­le­gal in Cal­i­for­nia.

Af­ter spray­ing bul­lets for al­most three min­utes, the gun­man en­tered an of­fice near the front of the bar, where he was found dead of an ap­par­ent self­in­flicted gun­shot wound.

“It ap­pears he walked up to the scene, shot the se­cu­rity guard who was stand­ing out­side, then stepped in­side,” Dean said. “It ap­pears that he turned to the right and shot sev­eral of the other se­cu­rity guards and em­ploy­ees and be­gan open­ing fire in­side the night­club.”

Pep­per­dine Univer­sity said on Twit­ter that some stu­dents from the col­lege were at the scene dur­ing the at­tack.

Eigh­teen peo­ple made their own way to hos­pi­tals and two were taken by am­bu­lance, ac­cord­ing to the Ven­tura County Sher­iff’s Of­fice.

Sher­iff’s Sgt. Ron Helus, who was shot af­ter he en­tered the build­ing, died at a hos­pi­tal early Thurs­day.

Helus and a pass­ing high­way pa­trol­man were re­spond­ing to sev­eral 911 calls when they ar­rived at the bar about 11:20 p.m., the sher­iff said. They heard gun­fire and went in­side.

Helus was im­me­di­ately struck by mul­ti­ple gun­shots, Dean said. The high­way pa­trol­man cleared the perime­ter and pulled Helus out and waited as a SWAT team and scores more of­fi­cers ar­rived.

The bar, which in­cludes a large dance hall with a stage and a pool room along with sev­eral smaller areas for eat­ing and drink­ing, is a pop­u­lar hang­out for stu­dents from nearby Cal­i­for­nia Lutheran Univer­sity, par­tic­u­larly on Col­lege Night. The univer­sity can­celed classes Thurs­day, al­though it was not known whether any of its stu­dents were among the vic­tims.

Ja­son Coff­man re­ceived con­fir­ma­tion 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 were not to drink and drive and that he loved him.

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

It was the dead­li­est mass shoot­ing in the United States since 17 class­mates and teach­ers were gunned down at a school in Park­land, Florida, nine months ago. It also came less than two weeks af­ter a gun­man killed 11 peo­ple at a syn­a­gogue in Pitts­burgh.

Matt Wen­ner­strom, 20, said the at­tacker first opened fire on em­ploy­ees work­ing the front desk.

“I grabbed as many peo­ple as I could and pulled them down un­der­neath the pool ta­ble we were close to un­til he ran out of bul­lets for that mag­a­zine and had to reload,” he said.

Wen­ner­strom, a reg­u­lar cus­tomer, said he and other pa­trons used bar stools to break open a win­dow to help peo­ple es­cape. “We were shut­tling as many peo­ple out as we could,” he said.

Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump or­dered flags to be flown at half-staff un­til sun­set Sat­ur­day at the White House and on all pub­lic build­ings, mil­i­tary posts, naval sta­tions and aboard all U.S. naval ves­sels. He also di­rected the flag to be flown at half-staff at all U.S. em­bassies and mil­i­tary bases and naval sta­tions abroad.

A wit­ness, John Hedge, said he saw the sus­pect toss­ing smoke bombs into the front of the restau­rant, KABC-TV re­ported.

“The gun­man was throw­ing smoke grenades all over the place. I saw him point to the back of the cash reg­is­ter ... and he just kept fir­ing. I ran out the front door,” he said.

Tay­lor Von Molt, 21, who was line danc­ing in the bar when the shoot­ing broke out, told CNN the burly gun­man was wear­ing sun­glasses and his face was par­tially cov­ered by a ban­danna.

She said she first heard what sounded like a bal­loon pop­ping un­til she re­al­ized it was gun­shots. Von Molt said she fell while rush­ing to­ward the ex­its and was slightly in­jured at­tempt­ing to get up. Shots were still be­ing fired when of­fi­cers ar­rived.

MARK J. TER­RILL/AP

Peo­ple watch as a mo­tor­cade es­corts the body of shoot­ing vic­tim Ron Helus Thurs­day in Thou­sand Oaks, Cal­i­for­nia.

Wed­nes­day was Col­lege Night at the Border­line Bar and Grill when a gun­man burst in and fired at pa­trons. MARVIN O. JIMENEZ/USA TO­DAY NET­WORK

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