Griev­ing mother de­mands ac­tion from US Con­gress

Par­ent of one of 12 peo­ple killed in Cal­i­for­nia calls for more gun con­trol leg­is­la­tion, as hun­dreds gather to mourn vic­tims of mass shooting by ex-marine

The Courier & Advertiser (Fife Edition) - - NEWS - KRYSTA FAURIA

Mourn­ers have gath­ered to hold hands, sing and to won­der how one of the safest cities in Amer­ica 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 years, but never be­fore in Thou­sand Oaks.

Ter­ri­fied pa­trons who had gath­ered for the weekly line danc­ing and col­lege night hurled bar stools through win­dows to es­cape, dived un­der ta­bles or threw their bod­ies pro­tec­tively on top of friends as shots erupted.

Twelve peo­ple were killed in­clud­ing Sergeant Ron Helus of Ven­tura County Sher­iff’s Of­fice, 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’,” Mr Dean said. “And she looked at me through her tears and she said: ‘He would have wanted it that way’.”

The dead also in­cluded a man who had sur­vived last year’s mas­sacre in Las Ve­gas, Telemachus Or­fanos, 27. “I don’t want prayers. I don’t want thoughts,” his mother, Su­san Sch­midt-Or­fanos said. “I want those b ******* in Con­gress – they need to pass gun con­trol so no one else has a child that doesn’t come home.”

The city of about 130,000 peo­ple, about 40 miles from Los An­ge­les, is an­nu­ally listed as one of the safest cities in Amer­ica.

The mo­tive for the at­tack is un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion. The killer, Ian David Long, 28, was a for­mer ma­chine gun­ner and Afghanistan war vet­eran who was in­ter­viewed by po­lice at his home last spring af­ter an episode of ag­i­tated be­hav­iour that au­thor­i­ties were told might be post-trau­matic stress dis­or­der.

Dressed all in black with his hood pulled up, Long opened fire with a hand­gun with an il­le­gal, ex­tra-ca­pac­ity mag­a­zine. He shot a se­cu­rity guard out­side the bar and then went in and took aim at em­ploy­ees and cus­tomers, au­thor­i­ties said.

He ap­par­ently killed him­self as scores of po­lice con­verged on the nightspot.

All morn­ing, peo­ple look­ing for miss­ing friends and rel­a­tives ar­rived at a com­mu­nity cen­tre where au­thor­i­ties and coun­sel­lors were in­form­ing the next-of-kin of those who died.

It was the na­tion’s dead­li­est such at­tack since 17 stu­dents and teach­ers were killed at a 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 re­turned 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 half­mast in hon­our of the vic­tims.

Getty Im­ages.

Peo­ple gather for a can­dle­light vigil to hon­our those killed at the Border­line Bar & Grill.

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