Hero­ism, re­solve amid gun­fire

Sto­ries un­fold of brav­ery at bar where gun­man killed 12 peo­ple en­joy­ing mu­sic

China Daily (USA) - - ACROSS AMERICA - By LIU YINMENG in Los An­ge­les and LIA ZHU in San Fran­cisco li­azhu@chi­nadai­lyusa.com

Sarah Si­likula, a mother of eight in South­ern Cal­i­for­nia, never be­lieved that gun vi­o­lence would be a con­cern in her life un­til Wed­nes­day night, when her teenage daugh­ter re­ceived a phone call from a friend.

The daugh­ter’s friend was hid­ing in the bath­room of a crowded bar in Thou­sand Oaks, Cal­i­for­nia, where a gun­man had stormed in and opened fire on in­no­cent peo­ple en­joy­ing a weekly “Col­lege Coun­try Night”.

Si­likula said she doesn’t know if the 19-year-old woman was in­jured, but the vi­o­lent in­ci­dent has changed her opin­ion on guns.

“A week ago, I would have told you I wouldn’t care about every­body’s per­sonal busi­ness. But now I say take them all. … (If ) no­body has guns, they can’t do mass shoot­ings,” she said.

A can­dle­light vigil for the vic­tims was planned for Thurs­day night in Thou­sand Oaks Plaza.

Walked into gun­fire

The gun­man, iden­ti­fied as US Marine Corps vet­eran Ian David Long, fa­tally shot 12 peo­ple, in­clud­ing a sher­iff’s sergeant, and then killed him­self at about 11:20 pm at the Border­line Bar & Grill, where the crime un­folded, ac­cord­ing to the au­thor­i­ties.

Sergeant Ron Helus and two Cal­i­for­nia High­way Pa­trol of­fi­cers ar­rived at the scene first af­ter 911 emer­gency calls.

“They opened the door and went in­side, Helus in the front, and im­me­di­ately en­gaged in the gun­fire,” Sergeant Eric Buschow of the Ven­tura County Sher­iff ’s Of­fice told China Daily on Thurs­day.

Helus was shot sev­eral times, and the two CHP of­fi­cers pulled him out­side and man­aged to send him to the emer­gency room, but he later died, Buschow said.

“There were 21 peo­ple who left the scene, ei­ther drove them­selves or were driven by friends to lo­cal emer­gency rooms,” Buschow said. “They were all treated for a va­ri­ety of mi­nor in­juries. Many of those were as a re­sult of the chaos af­ter the shoot­ing but not nec­es­sar­ily gun­shot wounds.”

Helus, 58, had worked at the sher­iff’s of­fice for 29 years. He served on a SWAT team and was a mem­ber of the nar­cotics task force for many years.

“(He’s) re­ally a gifted and out­stand­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tor,” Buschow said. “It’s such a tragedy on so many lev­els. It touches a lot of lives and a lot of places. It’s just go­ing to take a long time to heal. Many lives will be changed be­cause of this.”

The au­thor­i­ties haven’t re­leased in­for­ma­tion on the vic­tims, but tele­vised re­ports have shown sev­eral vic­tims in their teens and early 20s.

“CLU (Cal­i­for­nia Lutheran Univer­sity) does a car­a­van on Wed­nes­day nights, be­cause this is one of the only places that I can even think of that al­lows 18-year-olds in,” she said. “This is where they go if they don’t reach le­gal drink­ing age, and they still want to have fun and hang out with their friends in the club.”

Cal­i­for­nia Lutheran Univer­sity in Thou­sand Oaks and Pep­per­dine Univer­sity in Mal­ibu have con­firmed that a stu­dent and a re­cent grad­u­ate were among the vic­tims. Cal­i­for­nia Lutheran can­celed classes on Thurs­day and Fri­day.

The crime scene and the gun­man’s home and car are be­ing pro­cessed for ev­i­dence, and in­ter­views are be­ing con­ducted, Paul Dela­court, FBI as­sis­tant di­rec­tor of the Los An­ge­les field of­fice, said at a news con­fer­ence held Thurs­day near the crime scene.

The in­ves­ti­ga­tors said it was pre­ma­ture to de­ter­mine the sus­pect’s mo­tive, but they hope ev­i­dence will al­low them to paint a pic­ture of his frame of mind.

Fed­eral in­ves­ti­ga­tion

Long had been de­ployed to Afghanistan for seven months from No­vem­ber 2010 to June 2011. He was in the Marines from Au­gust 2008 un­til March 2013, serv­ing as a ma­chine gun­ner and earn­ing the rank of cor­po­ral in Au­gust 2011.

He also earned sev­eral awards, in­clud­ing a Com­bat Ac­tion Rib­bon and a Marine Corps Good Con­duct Medal.

“The in­ves­ti­ga­tion is huge,” Sergeant Julie No­vak told China Daily fol­low­ing the news con­fer­ence.

The sher­iff’s of­fice has part­nered with the FBI and the fed­eral Bureau of Al­co­hol, To­bacco, Firearms and Ex­plo­sives (ATF) in the in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

“FBI is of­fer­ing their spe­cial equip­ment that we don’t have. We are also work­ing in part­ner­ship with ATF, help­ing along gun lines and de­vel­op­ing nodes and an­gles,” said No­vak. “It’s a very slow, me­thod­i­cal, de­tailed in­ves­ti­ga­tion, and it re­ally re­quires a lot of peo­ple to work on it to­gether.”

They opened the door and went in­side, Helus in the front, and im­me­di­ately en­gaged in the gun­fire.” Sergeant Eric Buschow, Ven­tura County Sher­iff’s Of­fice

PHO­TOS PRO­VIDED TO CHINA DAILY

Madi­son Fuller of Thou­sand Oaks, Cal­i­for­nia re­acts on Thurs­day as she watches from an over­pass as a pro­ces­sion for the body of Sergeant Ron Helus, who died in a mass shoot­ing at a Thou­sand Oaks bar, moves down Ven­tura High­way 101 in Thou­sand Oaks.

Wit­nesses con­sole each other near the Border­line Bar & Grill in Thou­sand Oaks, Cal­i­for­nia, af­ter a shooter killed 12 peo­ple and him­self on Wed­nes­day.

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