Gunman kills 12 at Calif. bar
Combat veteran found dead after ‘horrific’ attack, police say
THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. —A former U.S. Marine machine gunner who may have suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder burst into a bar packed with college students late Wednesday, tossed a smoke bomb into the crowd and opened fire, authorities said.
The Borderline Bar and Grill was hosting line-dancing lessons for college students as young as 18 Wednesday night. Crowds of young people, including parties for two women celebrating their 21st birthdays, were drinking and dancing when the crack of gunfire echoed through the cavernous room.
Eleven people were killed, in addition to a sheriff’s sergeant responding to the scene who was gunned down by the assailant minutes later. Eighteen others were injured, some hurt trying to escape.
The killer was identified as Ian David Long, 28, a veteran of the war in Afghanistan who was interviewed by police at his home last spring after an episode of agitated behavior that they were told might be PTSD.
Opening fire with a .45-caliber 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. There were five off-
duty officers at the bar, officials said.
Screaming in fear, patrons rushed for the exits, dove under tables and used barstools to smash secondfloor windows at the bar, a hangout popular with students from nearby California Lutheran University and other colleges.
“I dropped to the floor,” Sarah Rose DeSon told ABC’s “Good Morning America.” “A friend yelled, ‘Everybody down!’ We were hiding behind tables trying to keep ourselves covered.”
Nellie Wong, who was celebrating her 21st birthday, said she “immediately stopped moving, stopped breathing” when she heard the gunfire.
“Thank goodness, he didn’t see me at all,” Wong said, who still had on a bright pink cowboy hat and a “Happy Birthday” sash.
“It’s a horrific scene in there,” Ventura County Sheriff Geoff Dean said from the parking lot. “There’s blood everywhere.”
All morning, people looking for missing friends and relatives arrived at a community center where authorities were informing the next-of-kin of those who died. Many walked past TV cameras with blank stares or tears in their eyes.
Jason Coffman received 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.
“Sister Sister” actress Tamera Mowry-Housley and her husband said their 18-year-old niece Alaina Housely, a student at nearby Pepperdine University, was also among those killed.
Brendan Kelly, a Marine, was inside the bar when the gunfire erupted. It was his second mass shooting. Like others at the bar, Kelly, 22, is a survivor of last year’s massacre in Las Vegas, which killed 58 people.
Wednesday’s rampage was the nation’s deadliest such attack since 17 students and teachers were killed at a Parkland, Fla., high school nine months ago.
It was also the 307th mass shooting in the country this year, according to the Gun Violence Archive, which classifies a “mass shooting” as a singular event in which at least four people are shot, not including the shooter.
Democratic Gov.-elect Gavin Newsom lamented the violence that has come again. “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 . ... It’s become normalized.”
President Donald Trump praised police for their bravery in the attack and ordered flags flown at half-staff in honor of the victims.
Authorities converged on Long’s home in Newbury Park, 5 miles from the bar, in a search for clues to what set him off.
Long was in the Marines from 2008 to 2013, rose to the rank of corporal and served in Afghanistan in 2010-11 before he was honorably discharged, the military said. Court records show he married in 2009 and was divorced in 2013.
In April officers were called to his home, where deputies found him acting irrationally. A mental health specialist met with him and didn’t feel he needed to be hospitalized, authorities said.