12 killed in shoot­ing

Of­fi­cials in­ves­ti­gate why a Ma­rine vet­eran of the Afghan War opened fire at a coun­try mu­sic bar

Richmond Times-Dispatch - - FRONT PAGE - BY KRYSTA FAU­RIA AND JONATHAN J. COOPER

THOU­SAND OAKS, Calif. — Ter­ri­fied pa­trons hurled barstools through win­dows to es­cape or shielded friends as a gun­man killed 12 peo­ple at a coun­try mu­sic bar in an at­tack that added Thou­sand Oaks to the tragic ros­ter of cities trau­ma­tized by mass shoot­ings. Dressed 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 Ven­tura County, north­west of Los An­ge­les.

The mo­tive for the ram­page late Wed­nes­day night was un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

The killer, Ian David Long, 28, was a for­mer ma­chine gun­ner and Afghan War vet­eran who was ques­tioned by po­lice at his home in the spring af­ter an episode of ag­i­tated be­hav­ior that au­thor­i­ties were told might be re­lated to post-trau­matic stress dis­or­der.

Open­ing fire with a hand­gun with an il­le­gal, large-ca­pac­ity mag­a­zine, Long shot a 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 Cal­i­for­nia Lutheran Uni­ver­sity grad­u­ate.

“It’s a hor­rific scene in there,” Ven­tura 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 Cal Lutheran — 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.”

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

Scores of peo­ple showed up to do­nate blood for the wounded, and all morn­ing Thurs­day, peo­ple look­ing for miss­ing friends and rel­a­tives ar­rived at a com­mu­nity cen­ter where au­thor­i­ties and coun­selors were in­form­ing the next of 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.

It was the na­tion’s dead­li­est such at­tack since 17 stu­dents and teach­ers were killed at a Park­land, Fla., high school nine months ago. It also came less than two weeks af­ter a gun­man mas­sa­cred 11 peo­ple at a syn­a­gogue in Pitts­burgh. This year alone, there have been four in­ci­dents in which at least 10 peo­ple died.

In his first pub­lic ap­pear­ance since win­ning of­fice on Tues­day, Gov.elect Gavin New­som 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 five miles from the 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.”

Long was in the Marines from 2008 to 2013, rose to the rank of cor­po­ral and served in Afghanistan from 2010 to 2011 be­fore he was hon­or­ably dis­charged, the mil­i­tary said. Court records show he mar­ried in 2009 and was di­vorced in 2013.

Au­thor­i­ties said he had no crim­i­nal record, but in April of­fi­cers were called to his home, where deputies found him an­gry and act­ing ir­ra­tionally. The sher­iff said of­fi­cers were told he might have PTSD be­cause of his mil­i­tary ser­vice. A men­tal health spe­cial­ist met with him and didn’t feel he needed to be hos­pi­tal­ized.

Long was armed with a Glock 21, a .45-cal­iber pis­tol de­signed to hold 10 rounds plus one in the cham­ber, ac­cord­ing to the sher­iff. But it had an ex­tended mag­a­zine — one ca­pa­ble of hold­ing more am­mu­ni­tion — that is il­le­gal in Cal­i­for­nia, Dean said.

Sher­iff’s Sgt. Ron Helus and a pass­ing high­way pa­trol­man ar­rived at the club around 11:20 p.m. in re­sponse to sev­eral 911 calls, heard gun­fire and went in­side, the sher­iff said. Helus was im­me­di­ately shot, Dean said.

The high­way pa­trol­man pulled Helus out, then waited as a SWAT team and other of­fi­cers ar­rived. Helus died at a hos­pi­tal.

By the time of­fi­cers en­tered the bar again — about 15 to 20 min­utes later, ac­cord­ing to the sher­iff’s of­fice — the gun­fire had stopped, the sher­iff said. They found 12 peo­ple dead in­side, in­clud­ing the gun­man, who was dis­cov­ered in an of­fice, the sher­iff said.

“There’s no doubt that they saved lives by go­ing in there and en­gag­ing with the sus­pect,” said Dean, who was set to re­tire on Fri­day. He praised the slain of­fi­cer — a close friend — as a hero: “He went in there to save peo­ple and paid the ul­ti­mate price.”

One other per­son was wounded by gun­fire, and as many as 15 oth­ers suf­fered mi­nor in­juries from jump­ing out win­dows or div­ing un­der ta­bles, au­thor­i­ties said.

THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

A vic­tim was treated near the scene of Wed­nes­day’s shoot­ing at Border­line Bar & Grill in Thou­sand Oaks, Calif., near Los An­ge­les. Open­ing fire with a hand­gun us­ing an il­le­gal mag­a­zine, the gun­man shot a guard out­side the bar and then went in and took aim at em­ploy­ees and pa­trons, au­thor­i­ties said. He was iden­ti­fied as Ian David Long, a for­mer ma­chine gun­ner and Afghan War vet­eran.

An FBI agent talked to a po­ten­tial wit­ness as they stood early Thurs­day near the scene of the shoot­ing. 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.

Long

THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

A law en­force­ment mo­tor­cade pro­vided an es­cort for a hearse car­ry­ing the body of Ven­tura County Sher­iff’s Sgt. Ron Helus on Thurs­day in New­bury Park, Calif.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.