Au­thor­i­ties seek mo­tive for Cal­i­for­nia killing

Shooter, an ex-Marine, be­haved er­rat­i­cally in spring episode thought to be PTSD

The Daily Star (Lebanon) - - WORLD -

THOU­SAND OAKS, Calif.: Us­ing a smoke bomb and a hand­gun, a hooded for­mer Marine 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 panic be­fore ap­par­ently tak­ing his own life, au­thor­i­ties said Thurs­day.

Au­thor­i­ties said the mo­tive for the at­tack Wed­nes­day night was un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

The killer was iden­ti­fied as Ian David Long, a 28-year-old vet­eran who au­thor­i­ties said had an episode of er­ratic be­hav­ior last spring that was thought to be post-trau­matic stress dis­or­der be­cause of his mil­i­tary back­ground.

Scream­ing in fear, pa­trons rushed for the ex­its, ducked un­der ta­bles and hurled bar stools to smash sec­ond-floor win­dows and jump to safety as gun­fire erupted at 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 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,” Dean said in the park­ing lot. “There’s blood every­where.” It was the dead­li­est mass shoot­ing in the U.S. 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.

That, in turn, closely fol­lowed the se­ries of pipe bombs mailed to crit­ics of Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump.

Long was armed with a Glock 21, a .45-cal­iber 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, Dean said.

The killer also de­ployed a smoke de­vice, said a law en­force­ment of­fi­cial who was not au­tho­rized to dis­cuss the in­ves­ti­ga­tion pub­licly and spoke on con­di­tion of anonymity.

Au­thor­i­ties be­gan a search of Long’s home in New­bury Park, about 8 kilo­me­ters from the Border­line bar, for clues to what set him off.

“There’s no in­di­ca­tion that he tar­geted the em­ploy­ees,” the sher­iff said. “Maybe there was a mo­tive for this par­tic­u­lar night, but we have no in­for­ma­tion lead­ing to that at all.”

Dean said his depart­ment had sev­eral pre­vi­ous con­tacts with Long, in­clud­ing a call to his home in April, when deputies found him an­gry and act­ing ir­ra­tionally be­cause of what au­thor­i­ties thought might have been PTSD. A men­tal health cri­sis team was called and con­cluded Long did not need to be taken into cus­tody, Dean said.

The gun­man was tall and wear­ing all black with a hood and his face partly cov­ered, wit­nesses told TV sta­tions. He first shot a se­cu­rity guard stand­ing out­side, then went in and opened fire on staff mem­bers and pa­trons, the sher­iff said.

Sher­iff’s Sgt. Ron Helus and a pass­ing high­way pa­trol­man ar­rived at the Border­line around 11:20 p.m. in re­sponse to sev­eral 911 calls, heard gun­fire and went in­side, the sher­iff said.

Helus was im­me­di­ately hit with mul­ti­ple gun­shots, Dean said. The high­way pa­trol­man pulled Helus out, then waited as a SWAT team and scores more of­fi­cers ar­rived.

By the time of­fi­cers en­tered the bar again, the gun­fire had stopped, ac­cord­ing to the sher­iff. They found 12 peo­ple dead in­side, in­clud­ing the gun­man, who was dis­cov­ered in an of­fice and had ap­par­ently shot him­self, the sher­iff said.

In ad­di­tion to the dead, one other per­son was wounded by gun­fire, and as many as 15 oth­ers suf­fered mi­nor in­juries from jump­ing out win­dows or div­ing un­der ta­bles, au­thor­i­ties said.

Cole Knapp, a fresh­man at Moor­park, said he was in­side the bar when the shoot­ing be­gan, but he thought at first that it was “just some­one with an M-80, just kind of play­ing a prank.” Then he said he saw the gun­man.

“I tried to get as many peo­ple to cover as I could,” Knapp said. “There was an exit right next to me, so I went through that. That exit leads to a pa­tio where peo­ple smoke. Peo­ple out there didn’t re­ally know what was go­ing on. There’s a fence right there so I said, ‘Ev­ery­one get over the fence as quickly as you can,’ and I fol­lowed them over.”

He said a high­way pa­trol of­fi­cer who hap­pened to be pulling some­one over was nearby. “I screamed to him, ‘There’s a shooter in there!’ He was kind of in dis­be­lief, then saw that I was se­ri­ous,” Knapp said.

He said he had friends who hadn’t been ac­counted for.

Tayler Whitler, 19, said that she was on the dance floor with her friends nearby when she saw the gun­man shoot­ing and heard screams of “Get down!”

“It looked like he knew what he was do­ing,” she said. –

The dead in­cluded 11 peo­ple in­side the bar and a vet­eran sher­iff’s sergeant who was the first of­fi­cer in­side the door.

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