‘Stand up for our children and ban guns’
■ Former marine with suspected mental health issues shot 12 people dead at country music bar near LA
A witness has called for gun control after describing the aftermath of a shooting at a bar in California as “like a battlefield”.
Police in Thousand Oaks said 12 people were shot dead when Ian David Long, a 28-year-old former US marine, opened fire inside Borderline Bar and Grill on Wednesday night.
Terrified drinkers used bar stools to smash windows as they desperately tried to escape the gunfire at the venue popular with students from nearby California Lutheran University.
A sheriff’s sergeant is among the dead and Long is believed to have killed himself.
Sarah Silikula lives minutes away from the bar and first realised something was wrong when she heard screaming.
She said: “A few minutes earlier I noticed the music had stopped but really didn’t process that it was a big deal until I heard slight screaming. It’s very unusual to hear anything in this neighbourhood after sunset, it’s a quiet place.
“So I was about to walk outside when my daughter called and said: ‘Don’t go outside, lock your house up, there’s an active shooter at Borderline. They don’t know where he is’.”
“I said: ‘How do you know where this is at, there’s nothing on the news?’ She said: ‘I was supposed to go to Borderline tonight but I didn’t go, I stayed home. My friends are there, and I just talked to one of them she’s hiding in the bathroom.’ ”
Mrs Silikula, a mother of eight, left her house and saw dozens of police cars descending on the bar. She said officers “did not hesitate” before rushing inside.
Mrs Silikula spoke to one victim who told her they had been hiding in the bathroom as the sound of gunshots got closer.
The door opened as they were cowering in a stall and the barrel of a gun poked through before the police officer holding the weapon entered and guided the young girl to safety.
Sheriff’s Sergeant Ron Helus arrived at Bordeline around 11.20pm local time and entered the building after hearing gunshots, US police said.
He was immediately hit with bullets and later died. Ventura County Sheriff Geoff Dean said: “He went in there to save people and paid the ultimate price.””
Authorities say it is the deadliest mass shooting in the US since 17 teachers and students were gunned down at a Parkland, Florida, high school nine months ago.
It comes less than two weeks after a gunman killed 11 people at a synagogue in Pittsburgh.
Mrs Silikula begged US president Donald Trump to tighten US gun laws.
She said: “A week ago, I would say it’s your business. Everyone has a right to get a gun. But not anymore. Now I beg our president to stand up for our children, I challenge him to do it.
Using a smoke bomb and a handgun, a hooded Marine combat veteran dressed all in black opened fire during college night at a country music bar in Southern California, killing 12 people and sending hundreds fleeing in terror before apparently taking his own life, authorities said yesterday.
Authorities said the motive for the attack on Wednesday night was still under investigation.
The killer was identified as 28-year-old Ian David Long, a former machine gunner and veteran of the war in Afghanistan, who was interviewed by police at his home last spring after an episode of agitated behaviour that they were told might be post-traumatic stress disorder.
Screaming in fear, patrons rushed for the exits, dived under tables and used barstools to smash second-floor windows and jump to safety as gunfire reverberated through the Borderline Bar & Grill, a hangout popular with students from nearby California Lutheran University.
“I dropped to the floor,” Sarah Rose DeSon told ABC’s Good Morning America. “A friend yelled, ‘Everybody down!’ We were hiding behind tables trying to keep ourselves covered.”
The dead included 11 people inside the bar, a doorman, and a veteran sheriff’s sergeant who was the first officer inside the door, Ventura County Sheriff Geoff Dean said.
“It’s a horrific scene in there,” Mr Dean said. “There’s blood everywhere.”
The bloodshed was the latest in what seems to be a never-ending string of mass shootings that are happening with terrifying frequency across the United States.
All morning, people looking for missing friends and relatives arrived at a community center where authorities and counselors were informing the next-of-kin of those who died.
Many walked past TV cameras with blank stares or tears in their eyes. In the parking lot, people comforted each other with hugs or a pat on the back.
Jason Coffman received the news that his son Cody, 22, who was about to join the army, was dead. Mr Coffman broke down as he told reporters how his last words to his son as he went out that night were not to drink and drive and that he loved him.
“Oh, Cody, I love you, son,” Mr Coffman sobbed.
Sister Sister actress Tamera Mowry-Housley and her husband said their 18-yearold niece Alaina Housely, a student at nearby Pepperdine University, was also among those killed.
So was Justin Meek, a 23year-old recent graduate of Cal Lutheran, according to the university.
It was the nation’s deadliest such attack since 17 students and teachers were killed at a Parkland, Florida, high school nine months ago. It also came less than two weeks after a gunman massacred 11 people at a synagogue in Pittsburgh.
Democratic governor-elect Gavin Newsom, in his first public appearance since winning office on Tuesday, lamented the violence that has come again to California.
“It’s a gun culture,” he said. “You can’t go to a bar or nightclub? You can’t go to church or synagogue? It’s insane is the only way to describe it. The normalisation, that’s the only way I can describe it. It’s become normalised.”
President Donald Trump praised police for their “great bravery” in the attack and ordered flags flown at half-staff in honour of the victims.
Long was armed with a Glock 21, a .45-caliber pistol designed to hold 10 rounds plus one in the chamber, according to the sheriff. But it had an extended magazine — one capable of holding more ammunition — that is illegal in California, Mr Dean said.
The killer also deployed a smoke device, a law enforcement official told The Associated Press.
Sheriff’s Sergeant Ron Helus and a passing highway patrolman arrived at the Borderline around 11.20pm in response to several 911 calls, heard gunfire and went inside, the sheriff said.
Sgt Helus was immediately hit with multiple gunshots, Mr Dean said.
The highway patrolman pulled Sgt Helus out, then waited as a Swat team and scores more officers arrived.
Sgt Helus died early on Thursday at a hospital.
Authorities yesterday converged on Long’s home in Newbury Park, about 8km from the Borderline bar, in a search for clues to what set him off. “There’s no indication that he targeted the employees. We haven’t found any correlation,” the sheriff said. “Maybe there was a motive for this particular night, but we have no information leading to that at all.”
Long was in the Marines from 2008 to 2013, rose to the rank of corporal and served in Afghanistan in 2010-11 before he was honourably discharged, the military said. Court records show he married in 2009 and was divorced in 2013.
Authorities said he had no criminal record, but in April officers were called to his home, where deputies found him angry and acting irrationally.
The sheriff said officers were told he might have PTSD because of his military service. A mental health specialist met with him and didn’t feel he needed to be hospitalised.
Tom Hanson, 70, who lives next door to Long and his mother, said yesterday that he called the police about six months ago when he heard “heavy-duty banging” and shouting coming from the Longs’ home.
“I was concerned because I knew he had been in the military,” he said.
Mr Hanson said the sheriff’s deputy who arrived took his information, but he never learned more about what happened and hadn’t spoken to Long since then. He said he was “dumbfounded” by the bloodshed. Begin?
Chyann Worrell, left, holds Nellie Wong as she cries and Erika Sigman looks on. All three women were in the Borderline Bar and Grill, California, when Ian David Long, inset, killed 12 people in a shooting rampage on Wednesday night.
People comfort each other near a country dance bar in Thousand Oaks, California, near Los Angeles, where gunman Ian Long killed 12 people before later turning the gun on himself.
The gunman has been identified as Ian Long, 28, a highly decorated ex-Marine whose neighbours say was plagued with PTSD.
The home of Ian Long is searched yesterday by officers in Thousand Oaks, California.
Ventura County Sheriff Geoff Dean speaks to reporters near the scene in Thousand Oaks.
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