Marine com­bat vet­eran kills 12 in ram­page

Porterville Recorder - - FRONT PAGE - By KRYSTA FAU­RIA and JONATHAN J. COOPER

THOU­SAND OAKS, Calif. — Ter­ri­fied pa­trons hurled barstools through win­dows to es­cape or threw their bod­ies pro­tec­tively on top of friends as a Marine com­bat vet­eran killed 12 peo­ple at a coun­try mu­sic bar in an at­tack that added Thou­sand Oaks to the tragic ros­ter of Amer­i­can cities trau­ma­tized by mass shoot­ings.

Dressed all in black with his hood pulled up, the gun­man ap­par­ently took his own life as scores of po­lice con­verged on the Border­line Bar & Grill in South­ern Cal­i­for­nia.

The mo­tive for the ram­page late Wed­nes­day night was 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 be­hav­ior that au­thor­i­ties were told might be post-trau­matic stress dis­or­der.

Open­ing fire with a hand­gun with an il­le­gal, ex­tra-ca­pac­ity mag­a­zine, Long shot a se­cu­rity guard out­side the bar and then went in and took aim at em­ploy­ees and pa­trons, au­thor­i­ties said. He also used a smoke bomb, ac­cord­ing to a law en­force­ment of­fi­cial who was not au­tho­rized to dis­cuss the in­ves­ti­ga­tion pub­licly and spoke on con­di­tion of anonymity.

The dead in­cluded a vet­eran sher­iff's deputy who rushed in to con­front the gun­man, as well as a 22-year-old man who planned to join the Army, a fresh­man at nearby Pep­per­dine Uni­ver­sity and a re­cent Cal Lutheran grad­u­ate.

"It's a hor­rific scene in there," Ven­tura County Sher­iff Ge­off Dean said in the park­ing lot. "There's blood every­where."

Sur­vivors of the ram­page — mostly young peo­ple who had gone out for col­lege night at the Border­line, a hang­out pop­u­lar with stu­dents from nearby Cal­i­for­nia Lutheran Uni­ver­sity — seemed to know what to do, hav­ing come of age in an era of ac­tive-shooter drills and deadly ram­pages hap­pen­ing with ter­ri­fy­ing fre­quency.

Sev­eral of the sur­vivors said they were also at the out­door coun­try mu­sic fes­ti­val in Las Ve­gas last year when a gun­man in a high-rise ho­tel killed 58 peo­ple.

Many of the es­ti­mated 150 pa­trons at the Border­line dived un­der ta­bles, ran for the ex­its, broke through win­dows or hid in the at­tic and bath­rooms, au­thor­i­ties and wit­nesses said.

"Un­for­tu­nately our young peo­ple, peo­ple at night­clubs, have learned that this may hap­pen, and they think about that," the sher­iff said. "For­tu­nately it helped save a lot of lives that they fled the scene so rapidly."

Matt Wen­ner­strom said he pulled peo­ple be­hind a pool ta­ble, and he and friends shielded women with their bod­ies af­ter hear­ing the shots. When the gun­man paused to reload, Wen­ner­strom said, he used a barstool to shat­ter a win­dow and then helped about 30 peo­ple es­cape. He heard an­other vol­ley of shots af­ter they got out.

"All I wanted to do was get as many peo­ple out of there as pos­si­ble," he told KABC-TV. "I know where I'm go­ing if I die, so I was not wor­ried."

The tragedy left a com­mu­nity that is an­nu­ally listed as one of the safest cities in Amer­ica reel­ing. Shoot­ings of any kind are ex­tremely rare in Thou­sand Oaks, a city of about 130,000 peo­ple about 40 miles (64 kilo­me­ters) from Los An­ge­les, just across the county line.

Scores of peo­ple showed up to do­nate blood for the wounded, and all morn­ing, peo­ple look­ing for miss­ing friends and rel­a­tives ar­rived at a com­mu­nity cen­ter where au­thor­i­ties and coun­selors were in­form­ing the nextof-kin of those who died. Many peo­ple walked past TV cam­eras with blank stares or tears in their eyes. In the park­ing lot, some com­forted each other with hugs or a pat on the back.

Ja­son Coff­man re­ceived the news that his son Cody, 22, who was about to join the Army, was dead. Coff­man broke down as he told re­porters how his last words to his son as he went out that night were not to drink and drive and that he loved him.

"Oh, Cody, I love you, son," Coff­man sobbed.

It was the na­tion's dead­li­est such at­tack 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.

Demo­cratic Gov.-elect Gavin New­som, in his first pub­lic ap­pear­ance since win­ning of­fice on Tues­day, lamented the vi­o­lence that has come again 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 nor­mal­iza­tion, that's the only way I can de­scribe it. It's be­come nor­mal­ized."

Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump praised po­lice for their "great brav­ery" in the at­tack and or­dered flags flown at half-staff in honor of the vic­tims.

Au­thor­i­ties searched Long's home in New­bury Park, about 5 miles from the Border­line bar, for clues to what set him off.

"There's no in­di­ca­tion that he tar­geted the em­ploy­ees. We haven't found any cor­re­la­tion," the sher­iff said. "Maybe there was a mo­tive for this par­tic­u­lar night, but we have no in­for­ma­tion lead­ing to that at all."

MAR­CIO JOSE SANCHEZ

AP PHOTO BY Mourn­ers em­brace out­side of the Thou­sand Oaks Teen Cen­ter, where rel­a­tives and friends gath­ered in the af­ter­math of a mass shoot­ing, Thurs­day, Nov. 8, 2018, in Thou­sand Oaks, Calif.

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