Mil­i­tary vet­er­ans, 2 friends, bar work­ers killed in shoot­ing

The Record (Troy, NY) - - NEWS -

THOU­SAND OAKS, CALIF. >> One was a vet­eran po­lice of­fi­cer who didn’t hes­i­tate to run to­ward dan­ger. An­other had sur­vived the dead­li­est mass shoot­ing in mod­ern U.S. his­tory. Oth­ers in­clude two friends who loved of­froad­ing, a Marine vet­eran who ded­i­cated his life to ser­vice and a re­cent col­lege grad­u­ate who worked with chil­dren with spe­cial needs.

They were among a dozen peo­ple killed in a shoot­ing at a coun­try mu­sic bar in sub­ur­ban Los Angeles on Wed­nes­day night. Au­thor­i­ties be­lieve the gun­man, Ian David Long, ul­ti­mately killed him­self.

Ron Helus

Ven­tura County sher­iff’s Sgt. Ron Helus was talk­ing to his wife when calls started coming in about a shoot­ing at the Border­line Bar and Grill.

“Hey, I got to go han­dle a call. I love you. I’ll talk to you later,” he told her, ac­cord­ing to Sher­iff Ge­off Dean.

It was the last time she would talk to her hus­band.

Helus rushed to­ward the shoot­ing and im­me­di­ately ex­changed fire with the gun­man, Dean said. Helus was hit mul­ti­ple times.

Sgt. Eric Buschow, who said Helus was a friend, de­scribed him as a “cop’s cop.”

“The fact that he was the first in the door doesn’t sur­prise me at all,” he said. “He’s just one of those guys that wouldn’t hes­i­tate in a sit­u­a­tion.”

Cody Coff­man

Cody Coff­man, who had just turned 22, was talk­ing with Army re­cruiters and pre­par­ing to ful­fill his dream of serv­ing his coun­try, fa­ther Ja­son Coff­man said, weep­ing.

Cody adored his sib­lings — three broth­ers be­tween ages 6 and 9 — and he couldn’t wait for the birth of a sis­ter, due on Nov. 29, his fa­ther said.

“Cody was the big brother that my kids need,” he said. “He was so ex­cited to have his first sis­ter and now­she’ll never know ...”

He trailed off, sob­bing, then said, “Oh, Cody, I love you, son.”

Ja­son Coff­man said his son was pas­sion­ate about base­ball, serv­ing as an um­pire for a lit­tle league, and they fished to­gether.

“That poor boy would come with me whether he liked it or not,” he said. “That’s the kind of stuff I am truly go­ing to miss.”

Justin Meek

Newly grad­u­ated from Cal­i­for­nia Lutheran Univer­sity, Justin Meek per­formed as a singer and worked at the Border­line.

Meek, 23, also worked for Chan­nel Is­land So­cial Ser­vices as a respite care­giver, sup­port­ing fam­i­lies with chil­dren with spe­cial needs, mostly de­vel­op­men­tal dis­abil­i­ties, chief ex­ec­u­tive Sharon Fran­cis said.

“Par­ents just adored him. He was able to bond with their kids,” she said. “He was just an all-around guy.”

Danielle Gallo, who also works at the fam­ily-run or­ga­ni­za­tion, said he was ded­i­cated to the kids he worked with.

“You could tell he re­ally had a heart for what he did,” she said, sob­bing.

Alaina Hous­ley

Alaina Hous­ley was just 18, a promis­ing stu­dent at Pep­per­dine Univer­sity with plans to study law, her fam­ily said.

Adam Hous­ley, a for­mer Fox News cor­re­spon­dent, and Tam­era Mowry-Hous­ley, an ac­tress known for the 1990s TV se­ries “Sis­ter Sis­ter,” said their niece was killed at the bar where she had gone line danc­ing with friends.

“Alaina was an in­cred­i­ble young woman with so much life ahead of her, and we are dev­as­tated that her life was cut short in this man­ner,” the cou­ple said in a state­ment.

Alaina was bright, pop­u­lar and well-loved, a stu­dent who had a 4.5 grade­point av­er­age since ju­nior high school and earned col­lege schol­ar­ships, said her grand­fa­ther, Art Hous­ley.

She played soc­cer and ten­nis all through high school, stud­ied pi­ano and vi­o­lin, and sang, he said.

Noel Sparks

Noel Sparks, a 21-year-old col­lege stu­dent, loved go­ing to the Border­line Bar and Grill, so friends and fam­ily were not sur­prised when she posted a photo of her­self danc­ing there Wed­nes­day night. Her aunt Pa­tri­cia Sparks of Mor­ris­town, Ten­nessee, told The As­so­ci­ated Press that the fam­ily was “in shock.” She de­scribed her niece as an “all- around good girl. She was the kind of girl that if you had friends, you’d want them to marry her.” Sparks, who was ma­jor­ing in art at nearby Moor­park Col­lege, of­ten went to Border­line with friends and her mom, go­ing there for Halloween and her 21st birth­day in Au­gust.

Sean Adler

Sean Adler, 48, was a se­cu­rity guard at Border­line who would stay late to en­sure peo­ple could get home

safely, said Deb­bie Allen, a long­time friend.

The mar­ried fa­ther of two boys died do­ing what he was pas­sion­ate about — pro­tect­ing peo­ple, Allen said.

“He was a very, very big per­son­al­ity and had a very, very gor­geous smile,” she said, adding that he had once con­sid­ered be­com­ing a po­lice of­fi­cer.

His other pas­sion, she said, was cof­fee. Adler re­cently opened his own cof­fee shop, Ri­valry Roast­ers, in Simi Val­ley, said Phil Eng­lan­der, an­other long­time friend.

“He was just the most pas­sion­ate per­son about cof­fee you would ever want to meet,” Eng­lan­der said.

Telemachus Or­fanos

Telemachus Or­fanos, 27, lived through the mass shoot­ing in Las Ve­gas last year only to die in­side Border­line, less than 10 min­utes from his home, ac­cord­ing to his mother.

“Here are my words: I want gun con­trol,” Su­san Sch­midt- Or­fanos said, her voice shak­ing with grief and rage. “I don’t want prayers. I don’t want thoughts.”

She said she wants Congress to “pass gun con­trol so no one else has a child that doesn’t come home.”

Or­fanos was a U.S. Navy vet­eran and Ea­gle Scout with a thick beard, an easy smile and a gla­di­a­tor hel­met tat­too. His friends called him “Tel.”

One of them, Al­iza Thomas, said she knew Or­fanos since high school and called him one of the nicest men she’s ever known.

“He was the most likely per­son to throw him­self in front of that gun,” Thomas said. “He would have thrown him­self on top of some­one else, 100 per­cent.”

Daniel Man­rique

Daniel Man­rique, 33, ded­i­cated his life to ser­vice — as a hospi­tal vol­un­teer, U.S. Marine and man­ager of an or­ga­ni­za­tion that helps vet­er­ans ad­just af­ter leav­ing the mil­i­tary.

He was a ra­dio op­er­a­tor with the 2nd Com­bat En­gi­neer Bat­tal­ion, 2nd Marine Divi­sion based at Camp Le­je­une, North Carolina, and he de­ployed to Afghanistan in 2007 with the 26th Marine Ex­pe­di­tionary Unit, the Or­ange County Reg­is­ter re­ported.

Af­ter the mil­i­tary, Man­rique be­gan vol­un­teer­ing with Team Red White and Blue, an or­ga­ni­za­tion that works to help vet­er­ans avoid iso­la­tion by con­nect­ing them to their com­mu­nity. He was named a re­gional pro­gram man­ager last month.

“The best way I can de­scribe him is as a saint. He truly be­lieved in ser­vice,” friend and busi­ness part­ner Tim O’Brien told the news­pa­per. “Dan was the guy you could rely on if you ran out of gas in the mid­dle of the night. He would help you out if some­thing bad hap­pened. He was there, ded­i­cated, loyal.”

The two high school friends were pre­par­ing to open a vet­eran- ori­ented brew­ery called “O’brique” — a com­bi­na­tion of their last names.

Blake Ding­man

Blake Ding­man was pas-

sion­ate about work­ing on cars and mo­tor­cy­cles, chal­leng­ing him­self to make re­pairs on any­thing me­chan­i­cal even if he wasn’t ex­actly sure how to do it, mother Lor­rie Ding­man said. The 21-year-old al­ways had a smile on his face and grease un­der his fin­ger­nails, she said.

Blake was work­ing in the elec­tri­cal field and was ex­cited about get­ting a new job, his mother said.

His large group of friends went off-road­ing in the desert and moun­tains, with Blake and his friend Jake Dun­ham, who also was killed at the Border­line, “al­ways in the cen­ter of the fun.”

“Blake had a zest and joy for liv­ing life to the fullest,” Lor­rie Ding­man said in an email. “No gather­ing was com­plete with­out Blake. His laugh­ter and smile were so spe­cial and when­ever you talked to him, he was gen­uinely in­ter­ested in you.”

She said he was con­fi­dent, talented, car­ing and had a huge heart.

Jake Dun­ham

Jake Dun­ham, 21, was known for driv­ing his truck hard. He was a reg­u­lar at rides in the desert and at group bon­fires made from ig­nit­ing ve­hi­cles and old dirt bikes, ac­cord­ing to a friend.

“He al­ways tried to con­vince peo­ple to ( let him) drive their car. Ev­ery­one knew it was a bad idea, but some­times they’d do it,” Michael Moses told the Los Angeles Times, laugh­ing. Dun­ham was at the bar with his friend and fel­low off-roader, Ding­man, who also was killed. Al­iza Thomas told The As­so­ci­ated Press that Dun­ham and Ding­man were her friends and grew up in a tight-knit group of young men with her younger brother Em­met. “They were the nicest, most re­spect­ful, self less men I’ve ever met,” she said.

Kristina Morisette

Kristina Moriset t e worked at the front desk of Border­line and had just bought her first car — a 2017 Jeep Rene­gade — with the money she had saved, her fa­ther said.

Michael Morisette told the Los Angeles Times that his en­er­getic and talk­a­tive 20-year- old daugh­ter had just re­turned from a trip to Austin, Texas, and he hugged her, re­lieved she was back home safe in Simi Val­ley.

Kristina gave her mother a coin purse she bought for her on the trip be­fore head­ing to work Wed­nes­day.

“We’d rather just curl up in a ball and turn off the lights, but there are other peo­ple out there that are hurt­ing, too,” Michael Morisette told the news­pa­per as he held his wife’s hand. “We could ei­ther re­treat and draw our cur­tains, or we could talk about the beauty of the things that were.”

Marky Meza Jr.

Marky Meza Jr., who was less than two weeks from his 21st birth­day, was work­ing as a bus­boy and food run­ner at the bar when he was killed.

“Marky was a lov­ing and won­der­ful young man who was full of life and am­bi­tion,” the Meza fam­ily said in a state­ment pro­vided to Santa Bar­bara TV sta­tion KEYT. “His fam­ily is dev­as­tated by his loss.”

Meza grew up in the Santa Bar­bara area and had worked in the ser­vice in­dus­try since he was a teen.

He was one of the few teenagers who got hired at Sand­piper Lodge in Santa Bar­bara, man­ager Shawn Boteju said. Meza worked full time at the Sand­piper in house­keep­ing and would come to work on a hov­er­board.

AP PHOTO/ MAR­CIO JOSE SANCHEZ

Fire­fight­ers salute from an over­pass as a mo­tor­cade with the body of Ven­tura County Sher­iff’s Sgt. Ron Helus goes by in New­bury Park, Calif. Helus was fa­tally shot while re­spond­ing to a mass shoot­ing at a coun­try mu­sic bar in South­ern Cal­i­for­nia.

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