At­tack kills 12 at club in Cal­i­for­nia; gun­man dead

Belleville News-Democrat - - Front Page - BY JOSE A. DEL REAL, JEN­NIFER MED­INA AND MATTHEW HAAG

A Ma­rine Corps vet­eran who had served in Afghanistan fa­tally shot at least 12 peo­ple Wed­nes­day night when he stormed a crowded coun­try and west­ern dance hall in Thou­sand Oaks, au­thor­i­ties said.

The Ven­tura County sher­iff, Ge­off Dean, said the gun­man, Ian David Long of nearby New­bury Park, Cal­i­for­nia, ap­par­ently took his own life af­ter be­ing con­fronted by of­fi­cers re­spond­ing to the Wed­nes­day night at­tack. One of­fi­cer, Sgt. Ron Helus, was killed when he en­tered the build­ing to help.

The gun­man used a .45-cal­iber hand­gun that he pur­chased legally. It had been out­fit­ted with an ex­tended mag­a­zine.

The shoot­ing came just over a year af­ter 58 peo­ple were killed at a coun­try mu­sic fes­ti­val in Las Ve­gas when a gun­man opened fire from a high-rise ho­tel room. There was an eerie par­al­lel be­tween the two shoot­ings, as some of the same peo­ple who emerged from the bar, the Border­line Bar & Grill, de­scribed hav­ing sur­vived the shoot­ing on the Las Ve­gas Strip.

Deputies had some in­ter- ac­tion with Long the past few years, the sher­iff said, in­clud­ing a re­ported dis­tur­bance at his home in April that prompted men­tal health spe­cial­ists to talk to him. The health spe­cial­ists, who talked to Long about his mil­i­tary ser­vice af­ter sus­pect­ing he might be suf­fer­ing from post­trau­matic stress dis­or­der, de­ter­mined he was not an im­me­di­ate dan­ger to him­self or oth­ers and he could not be in­vol­un­tar­ily taken to a men­tal hos­pi­tal.

Wit­nesses re­called a chaotic scene at the bar, which was filled with hun­dreds of peo­ple, many of them col­lege stu­dents: A gun­man open­ing fire, first at a se­cu­rity guard, as pa­trons drop-

ped to the dance floor, hid un­der ta­bles and broke win­dows to es­cape.

Many sur­vivors said they were alive be­cause of the ac­tions of com­plete strangers. Dean said at least six off-duty of­fi­cers were in­side when the gun­man opened fire.

A par­ent told Dean “they stood in front of my daugh­ter” and pro­tected her. Wit­nesses also told lo­cal news me­dia about pa­trons in the back of the bar who broke out a win­dow and helped a num­ber of peo­ple es­cape.

The num­ber of peo­ple wounded in the shoot­ing was un­clear, but the Ven­tura County Sher­iff’s Of­fice said about 22 peo­ple had been taken to hospi­tals.

The sher­iff, his voice crack­ing, re­called Helus, the only vic­tim iden­ti­fied so far by law en­force­ment.

“He died a hero be­cause he went, he went in to save lives, to save other peo­ple’s lives,” Dean said.

Coun­try mu­sic was play­ing in the dimly lit bar when peo­ple first heard gun­shots some­time be­fore mid­night. Some said they had ini­tially mis­taken the sounds for fire­crack­ers.

Dean said Long first shot a se­cu­rity of­fi­cer out­side the club and then walked in­side, turned to the right and shot “other se­cu­rity and em­ploy­ees” be­fore start­ing to fire on pa­trons in the main part of the club.

“No idea what the mo­tive was,” the sher­iff said. “We don’t be­lieve he was tar­get­ing peo­ple.”

“I just started hear­ing these big pops,” said a wit­ness in­ter­viewed by a lo­cal tele­vi­sion sta­tion.

Sarah DeSon, 19, a com- mu­ni­ca­tions stu­dent at Cal­i­for­nia State Univer­sity Chan­nel Is­lands, said: “I saw sparks go­ing and smoke. There were smoke bombs go­ing off next to me.”

DeSon de­scribed a stam­pede of peo­ple flee­ing the club.

“I fell on my face,” she said. “I re­mem­ber look­ing back at one point to make sure he” – the gun­man – “wasn’t be­hind me.”

Chyann Wor­rell, a ju­nior at the univer­sity, said she was at the bar to cel­e­brate the 21st birth­day of her friend Nel­lie Wong for a night of line-danc­ing with a live DJ. Shortly af­ter 11 p.m., Wor­rell said, the gun­man, wear­ing dark cloth­ing and a dark base­ball cap, drew his gun. He aimed it at a man near the front of the bar.

Wor­rell ducked for cover and heard a bar­rage of bul­lets. As she ran out of the bar, she said, she saw sev­eral bod­ies sprawled on the floor. Hours later, she had still not heard from two friends who had been with her.

One young woman in­side the bar, Tey­lor Whit­tler, said the gun­man ap­peared fo­cused and did not ap­pear to be tar­get­ing any­one in par­tic­u­lar.

“I saw him shoot,” Whit­tler said, adding that some­one had yelled, “Ev­ery­body get down.”

Helus en­tered Border­line with a High­way Pa­trol of­fi­cer shortly af­ter the first 911 calls, Dean said. The gun­man im­me­di­ately started shoot­ing at them, strik­ing Helus sev­eral times.

When the next group of of­fi­cers en­tered the bar, they found Long dead in an of­fice in­side the club with an ap­par­ent self­in­flicted gun­shot wound.

Hours af­ter the shoot­ing, lo­cal law en­force­ment of­fi­cers and FBI agents ar­rived at the neatly kept sub­ur­ban home in New­bury Park, west of Thou- sand Oaks, where Long lived with his mother. The home was cor­doned off with red crime scene tape.

A neigh­bor, Tom Han­son, 70, said Long was in mid­dle school when they moved in. Af­ter high school, Long served five years in the Ma­rine Corps, in­clud­ing seven months in Afghanistan, ac­cord­ing to mil­i­tary records. He left the corps with the rank of cor­po­ral in March 2013.

Han­son de­scribed Long as an in­tro­vert who rarely left home. Some­time this spring, Han­son said he be­came con­cerned about shout­ing com­ing from the house and called the sher­iff.

RMG News via AP

In this image taken from video, a vic­tim is treated near the scene of the shoot­ing Wed­nes­day evening in Thou­sand Oaks, Calif.


Ja­son Coff­man re­acts to a phone call af­ter learn­ing his son, Cody Coff­man, 22, was killed in the shoot­ing.

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