Rams hor­ri­fied by mass shoot­ing near Thou­sand Oaks train­ing base

The Maui News - - SPORTS - By GREG BEACHAM

THOU­SAND OAKS, Calif. — An­drew Whit­worth and most of his Los An­ge­les Rams team­mates live within a few miles of their team’s train­ing com­plex in Thou­sand Oaks. The Border­line Bar and Grill is only five miles south of their week­day head­quar­ters in this placid sub­ur­ban city.

The Rams all re­acted with hor­ror and sad­ness Thurs­day af­ter a late-night mass shoot­ing oc­curred about five miles north of their fields and train­ing rooms.

“It’s gut-wrench­ing, and it’s emo­tional,” said Whit­worth, who lives in Thou­sand Oaks with his wife and four chil­dren. “I was up at 3:30, 4 o’clock read­ing about it, and ended up wak­ing up my wife and talk­ing about it. It’s a hard re­al­ity. … The truth is that tragedy is ev­ery­where, and you can’t es­cape tragedy. All you can pre­pare is how you’ll han­dle it and how you can ap­proach ad­ver­sity.”

Ma­rine com­bat vet­eran Ian David Long opened fire Wed­nes­day night at the coun­try mu­sic bar a 10-minute drive from the Rams’ com­plex. He killed 12 peo­ple be­fore ap­par­ently killing him­self.

The Rams be­lieve no one con­nected to their or­ga­ni­za­tion was at the bar, but coach Sean McVay and de­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor Wade Phillips both de­scribed a somber mood in the Rams’ locker room be­fore prac­tice. Whit­worth ad­dressed the play­ers and be­gan the process of com­ing up with a way to honor the vic­tims.

The team will hold a mo­ment of si­lence be­fore its home game against Seat­tle on Sun­day, and the Rams may or­ga­nize ad­di­tional trib­utes to the vic­tims, McVay said.

“It was very heart­felt through­out the en­tire team,” of­fen­sive guard Rodger Saf­fold said. “We work here, and we spend most of our time out here. When we heard about it, it was very shock­ing. … It just hurt a lot. There’s way too many mass shoot­ings, and this one hit re­ally close to home.”

Phillips de­scribed the shoot­ing as a “hor­ri­ble tragedy.”

“It’s a sad, sad deal, and we feel for the peo­ple it hap­pened to,” Phillips added. “But it doesn’t just af­fect those peo­ple. It af­fects every­body, and our play­ers are gen­uinely and greatly con­cerned about it, as we all are.”

The Rams built their train­ing com­plex 2 1/2 years ago on a cor­ner of the cam­pus of Cal Lutheran Uni­ver­sity, which had stu­dents at the bar dur­ing the shoot­ing.

Quar­ter­back Jared Goff, punter Johnny Hekker, re­ceiver Cooper Kupp and oth­ers tweeted about the tragedy be­fore prac­tice. Af­ter McVay and Whit­worth spoke to the team, Saf­fold said the play­ers dis­cussed putting to­gether a re­lief fund or other mech­a­nisms of help for the vic­tims.

“It’s some­thing that makes you step back and gives you a per­spec­tive,” McVay said. “I know me per­son­ally, I’m very guilty of los­ing per­spec­tive, be­cause you’re just in your own lit­tle world and it’s all foot­ball, all the time, and then you have things like this that oc­cur and re-gather your pri­or­i­ties and your per­spec­tive on what’s re­ally im­por­tant, and (serve as a re­minder to) not to get bent out of shape on some of the things that maybe I tend to do, just be­ing in the role that I’m in.”

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