A Ma­rine Corps vet­eran fa­tally shot at least 12 peo­ple be­fore killing him­self in a Cal­i­for­nia bar on Wed­nes­day.

A for­mer U.S. Ma­rine ma­chine gun­ner who may have suf­fered from post­trau­matic 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 linedanc­ing 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 sec­ond­story 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 en­force­ment, 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.

Around 1:30 a.m. Thurs­day, dozens of peo­ple lined the side­walk on Moor­park Road near the bar, their faces il­lu­mi­nated by flash­ing blue and red po­lice lights. Em­ploy­ees and bar pa­trons hud­dled to­gether, cry­ing, hug­ging and ask­ing each other whether there had been word on loved ones who were still in­side.

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.


Los An­ge­les County Deputy Sher­iff Ar­mando Viera, cen­ter, con­soles an uniden­ti­fied woman on a free­way over­pass af­ter a mo­tor­cade with the body of Ven­tura County Sher­iff's Sgt. Ron Helus went by Thurs­day in New­bury Park.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.