Vic­tim was de­voted to help­ing his fel­low vets

Los Angeles Times - - FRONT PAGE - BY SON­ALI KOHLI AND NICOLE SANTA CRUZ

If Dan Man­rique were alive, his friends be­lieve he’d be won­der­ing what he could have done for the for­mer Marine who walked into a crowded bar and started shoot­ing.

In­stead, Man­rique, 33, who also served in the Marines, was one of 12 to die Wed­nes­day night in the shooter’s spray of bul­lets at the Border­line Bar and Grill.

Friends and fam­ily said he died try­ing to pro­tect oth­ers — some­thing he did ev­ery day as an ad­vo­cate for vet­er­ans.

The for­mer field ra­dio op­er­a­tor served in the Marines from 2003 to 2007, in­clud­ing a 2007 de­ploy­ment to Iraq, fed­eral au­thor­i­ties con­firmed. He rose to the rank of sergeant and earned mul­ti­ple awards.

In 2012, an old friend and fel­low vet­eran, Ja­clyn Pieper, asked Man­rique if he wanted to join the Ven­tura County chap­ter of Team

Red, White and Blue, an or­ga­ni­za­tion that of­fers vet­er­ans a sense of com­mu­nity. Man­rique im­me­di­ately said yes. By the next year, she said, he was chap­ter pres­i­dent. It was a vol­un­teer po­si­tion that he ea­gerly filled.

Nearly ev­ery week­end for five years, Man­rique would or­ga­nize events for area vet­er­ans, in­clud­ing bowl­ing nights and an an­nual work­shop to teach dis­abled vet­er­ans to surf. They helped vet­er­ans used to mil­i­tary ca­ma­raderie set­tle more eas­ily into life back home.

“Let’s say some­body went to the mil­i­tary right out of high school .... Their whole com­mu­nity as they know it has changed, and so it’s im­por­tant to bring them in and let them know they’re ac­cepted,” Pieper said.

She said she can’t help but think that if the shooter, Ian David Long, had been touched by her friend’s out­reach, things might have been dif­fer­ent.

If Man­rique had sur­vived, Air Force vet­eran Robert Fe­lix said, he would have asked, “How could we have helped him?”

“I want to be mad, but I can’t be­cause he is a Marine vet­eran,” Fe­lix, a 48-year-old Team RWB vol­un­teer, said of Long. “He’s a brother, and for what­ever rea­son he didn’t get help.”

Au­thor­i­ties have said Long may have suf­fered from post-trau­matic stress dis­or­der af­ter his mil­i­tary ser­vice in Afghanistan, though peo­ple who knew him in high school de­scribed him as an an­gry loner who started fights — and ex­perts warn against con­flat­ing men­tal ill­ness with an affin­ity

for vi­o­lence.

“Sgt. Man­rique’s com­mit­ment to his fel­low vet­er­ans is the epit­ome of what it means to re­main sem­per fidelis — al­ways faith­ful,” Marine Capt. Joseph But­ter­field said in a state­ment.

Man­rique didn’t just of­fer up his spare hours to help­ing fel­low vet­er­ans. From June 2017 un­til last month, he worked as a pro­gram man­ager at St. Joseph Cen­ter, an L.A.-based vet­er­ans’ so­cial ser­vice or­ga­ni­za­tion. He ran a pro­gram that helped vet­er­ans get their ben­e­fits and spend the money re­spon­si­bly, said Va Le­cia Adams Kel­lum, the cen­ter’s pres­i­dent and CEO.

He al­ways wanted to be hands-on, and he had the right dis­po­si­tion, Kel­lum said. Friends and col­leagues de­scribed him as a com­fort­ing pres­ence, quiet but friendly and open.

“He’s a very ac­cept­ing per­son, and I think that made him very spe­cial … be­cause peo­ple come through our doors who have strug­gled,” Kel­lum said.

On Thurs­day, Mayor Eric Garcetti posted a photo of him­self with Man­rique on In­sta­gram. He said they had

met two years ear­lier, and that Man­rique was try­ing “to help with the mis­sion of end­ing home­less­ness in L.A.”

“I was very im­pressed by his heart, his help and his hope,” Garcetti wrote.

Man­rique re­cently got a pay­ing job as a re­gional pro­gram man­ager at Team RWB. Mar­cos Man­rique, 23, said his brother him­self had dif­fi­culty ad­just­ing to civil­ian life.

“The big­gest irony,” he said, “is that the peo­ple he wanted to help ended up turn­ing a gun on him.”

Damian Dovarganes As­so­ci­ated Press

“SGT. MAN­RIQUE’S com­mit­ment to his fel­low vet­er­ans is the epit­ome of what it means to re­main sem­per fidelis — al­ways faith­ful,” a U.S. Marine cap­tain said.

DAN MAN­RIQUE, 33, worked to help vet­er­ans read­just to civil­ian life.

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