Thou­sand Oaks mourns in wake of bar shoot­ing

Hindustan Times (Ranchi) - - World - As­so­ci­ated Press let­ters@hin­dus­tan­times.com ■

THOU­SAND OAKS: Mourn­ers gath­ered to hold hands, to sing and to won­der how one of the safest ci­ties in the US could be­come a killing zone.

Hun­dreds of peo­ple gath­ered on Thurs­day evening to re­mem­ber the dozen peo­ple shot and killed by a Marine vet­eran at the packed Border­line Bar & Grill the night be­fore.

It was a scene of hor­ror en­acted in many places around the coun­try in re­cent months, but never be­fore in Thou­sand Oaks.

Ter­ri­fied pa­trons who had gath­ered for the weekly line danc­ing and col­lege night hurled barstools through win­dows to es­cape or threw their bod­ies pro­tec­tively on top of friends as shots erupted. Twelve peo­ple were killed in­clud­ing Ven­tura County sher­iff’s Sgt. Ron Helus, a 29-year vet­eran near­ing re­tire­ment who re­sponded to re­ports of shots fired and was gunned down as he en­tered the bar.

He and other first re­spon­ders “ran to­ward dan­ger,” Sher­iff Ge­off Dean said at the vigil.

“When I told her (his wife) that we had lost her hero, I said to her: ‘Be­cause of Ron, many lives were saved,’” Dean said. “And she looked at me through her tears and she said: ‘He would have wanted it that way.’” The dead in­cluded a man who had sur­vived last year’s mas­sacre in Las Ve­gas, Telemachus Or­fanos, 22.

“I don’t want prayers. I don’t want thoughts,” his mother, Su­san Sch­midt-Or­fanos, said ear­lier. “I want those in Congress to pass gun con­trol laws so no one else has a child that doesn’t come home.”

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