Gun­man opens fire in bar, killing at least 12 peo­ple

The Bradenton Herald - - Front Page - BY SEAN GREENE, ALENE TCHEKMEDYIAN AND BRITTNY ME­JIA

A for­mer U.S. Marine ma­chine gun­ner who may have suf­fered from post-trau­matic stress dis­or­der burst into a Thou­sand Oaks bar packed with col­lege stu­dents late Wed­nes­day night, tossed a smoke bomb into the crowd and opened fire, au­thor­i­ties said.

Eleven peo­ple were killed, in ad­di­tion to a sher­iff’s sergeant re­spond­ing to the scene who was gunned down by the as­sailant min­utes later.

The Border­line Bar and Grill was host­ing line-danc­ing lessons for col­lege stu­dents as young as 18 on 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 about 11:20 p.m.

Ter­ri­fied pa­trons scram­bled for cover as bul­lets flew. Some crouched be­hind pool ta­bles and in bath­room stalls, fum­bling with phones as they tried to call and text their loved ones. Oth­ers used barstools to break sec­ond-story win­dows in an at­tempt to jump to safety.

Nel­lie Wong’s friends at Cal­i­for­nia State Uni­ver­sity, Chan­nel Is­lands in Ca­mar­illo had sur­prised her Wed­nes­day night and taken her out to cel­e­brate her 21st birth­day. As the shoot­ing started, she dived to the floor and hid be­hind a group of ta­bles and barstools, squeez­ing her nose closed with her hand to avoid chok­ing on the smoke.

“I im­me­di­ately stopped mov­ing, stopped breath­ing,” said Wong, who still wore a bright pink cow­boy hat and a “Happy Birth­day” sash. “Thank good­ness, he didn’t see me at all.”

The shoot­ing left 12 peo­ple dead and 18 oth­ers in­jured, some who were hurt try­ing to es­cape. The sever­ity of their in­juries was not im­me­di­ately known, fire of­fi­cials said.

The sus­pected gun­man, Ian David Long, was found dead of a gun­shot wound in a back room at the bar. The amount of blood in­side the bar made it dif­fi­cult to tell whether he shot him­self or was killed by law en­force-

THIS IS NOT SOME­THING THAT HAP­PENS IN THOU­SAND OAKS. THOU­SAND OAKS IS ONE OF THE SAFEST COM­MU­NI­TIES IN THE UNITED STATES.

Capt. Garo Kured­jian of the Ven­tura County Sher­iff’s Depart­ment

ment, Ven­tura County Sher­iff Ge­off Dean said.

Long, 28, lived in New­bury Park, five miles from the dance hall. He drove his mother’s red Toy­ota pickup to the Border­line and did not say any­thing be­fore open­ing fire, a law en­force­ment of­fi­cial said.

Long was a ma­chine gun­ner in the U.S. Marine Corps, reach­ing the rank of cor­po­ral. He served a seven-month tour in Afghanistan dur­ing his nearly five years in the ser­vice, ac­cord­ing to the Depart­ment of De­fense.

Neigh­bors on his man­i­cured, leafy street said they sus­pected he had emo­tional is­sues. Deputies who were called to Long’s home in April for a com­plaint of dis­turb­ing the peace said he was irate and was act­ing ir­ra­tionally, Dean said. Men­tal health work­ers de­cided he did not meet the stan­dard for an emer­gency psy­chi­atric hold.

Thou­sand Oaks res­i­dents said the at­tack had shat­tered their view of the sub­ur­ban area as safe. Sev­eral teenagers said their par­ents were com­fort­able send­ing them to Border­line, next to a golf course and the 101 Free­way, be­cause it was fa­mil­iar and safe.

“This is not some­thing that hap­pens in Thou­sand Oaks,” said Capt. Garo Kured­jian of the Ven­tura County Sher­iff’s Depart­ment. “Thou­sand Oaks is one of the safest com­mu­ni­ties in the United States. For some­thing like that to hit us on our doorstep is dev­as­tat­ing.”

The Border­line, a barn­like bar with live mu­sic and danc­ing, is pop­u­lar with col­lege stu­dents and coun­try mu­sic fans in Ven­tura County.

Ven­tura Sher­iff’s Sgt. Ron Helus had been talk­ing to his wife on the phone, as he of­ten did dur­ing a shift, when he re­ceived a ra­dio call about the shoot­ing, Dean said. Be­fore he rushed to the scene, he told her: “Hon, I got to go, I love you. I gotta go on a call.”

Helus and a Cal­i­for­nia High­way Pa­trol of­fi­cer were the first peo­ple to run into the bar, about four min­utes af­ter the first 911 call, Dean said. Helus was shot mul­ti­ple times, al­most im­me­di­ately, and the CHP of­fi­cer dragged him out of the build­ing.

Helus died early Thurs­day morn­ing at a hospi­tal, leav­ing be­hind his wife and a son. He was a 29year vet­eran of the depart­ment who planned to re­tire in a year or two, Dean said.

The shooter was armed with a Glock 21 .45-cal­iber hand­gun, Dean said. A source who was not au­tho­rized to speak pub­licly said Long legally pur­chased the weapon in Simi Val­ley.

The shooter’s weapon had an ex­tended mag­a­zine, Dean said; he added he did not know how many bul­lets were in the weapon.

RMG News via AP

In this im­age taken from video, a vic­tim is treated near the scene of the shoot­ing Wed­nes­day evening in Thou­sand Oaks, Calif.

MAR­CIO JOSE SANCHEZ AP

LA County Deputy Sher­iff Ar­mando Viera, cen­ter, con­soles a woman af­ter a mo­tor­cade with the body of Sgt. Ron Helus passed Thurs­day.

MARK J. TERRILL AP

Ven­tura County Sher­iff Ge­off Dean speaks to re­porters near the scene in Thou­sand Oaks, Calif., on Thurs­day.

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