Neighbors describe gunman as angry Afghan war veteran
It was an ominous answer his high school baseball coach finds chilling in hindsight.
California mass shooter Ian David Long replied with just one word – “death” – when predicting his future for a varsity program produced for his Newbury Park High School baseball team in 2007.
“We had kids messing around, saying jokey stuff, but this definitely looks disturbing now. It’s unbelievable,” Matt Goldfield, one of the team coaches that year, told the Daily News.
Goldfield and fellow coach Scott Drootin remembered Long, 28, as an “socially awkward” kid with “sad eyes” who quit baseball after being the last out of a playoff game that ended his team’s hopes for a championship his junior year.
The men never suspected the future Marine would return from a tour in Afghanistan and use a .45caliber handgun to storm the Borderline Bar & Grill in Thousand Oaks, Calif., and murder 12 people.
Long’s neighbors, meanwhile, weren’t surprised.
“He was very aggressive. There were threats of violence, more than once,” Donald J. MacLeod, who lives directly behind Long’s house in Newbury Park told The News. “There’s no question in my mind the guy was troubled, and (Afghanistan) didn’t help him.”
MacLeod, 79, recalled hearing Long (photo) berate his mom during regular fights inside their ranchstyle house at all hours of the day and night.
He figured Long had a gun after hearing a gunshot ring from the house during a loud fight about 18 months ago.
“The argument was going on a good 10 to 15 minutes. It amplified up, up and up with a couple of door slams in between,” he said. “All of a sudden, I heard a gunshot. I told my wife, ‘Leave the lights out, don’t go near the back wall, a bullet can go through the stucco,’” MacLeod said.
The retired firefighter from Scotland said he quietly crept into his yard to better determine what was going on over the fence.
“I came outside very quietly. Then their lights went all off and the dogs just shut up, and everything went quiet,” he said. “I know a gunshot when I hear one.”
He said the shooter moved in with his mom as a troubled teen, and came back from Afghanistan even angrier.
“When he came back he was a lot worse. It got turbo-charged,” MacLeod said. “The duration of the arguments was a lot longer.”
Blake Winnett, a set builder from Simi Valley, met Long in 2013 and later lived with him while Long went to college.
“He kept to himself, always had his earbuds in. He went to the gym, went to class or rode his motorcycle,” he said.
He said they occasionally went to Borderline together, but Long seemed to prefer electronic music to the bar’s country vibe.
MacLeod said the gunman’s mom, Colleen Long, was a nice woman who had as many as five rescue dogs in the house at once.
The mom wrote a tribute to her son in an ad she bought inside the 2007 baseball guide obtained by The News: “I’ll love you forever. I’ll like you for always. As long as I’m living, my baby you’ll be.”