Marine combat veteran kills 12 in California bar
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 and 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 customers, 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 man who had survived last year’s massacre in Las Vegas, a veteran sheriff’s deputy who rushed in to confront the gunman, 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 and other schools — seemed to know what to do, having come of age in an era of active-shooter drills and deadly rampages happening with terrifying frequency.
For some it was not a new experience. Survivors and their relatives said several people who were at the bar Thursday had been at the outdoor country music festival in Las Vegas last year where a gunman in a highrise hotel killed 58 people.
“I don’t want prayers. I don’t want thoughts,” said Susan Schmidt-Orfanos, whose son Telemachus Orfanos survived the Vegas shooting only to die less than 10 minutes from his home. “I want those bastards in Congress — they need to pass gun control so no one else has a child that doesn’t come home.”
Many of the estimated 150 patrons at the Borderline dived under tables, ran for 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 instinctively 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 and others shattered windows with barstools and helped about 30 people escape.
A video posted on Instagram after the shooting by one of the patrons shows an empty dance floor with the sound of windows shattering in the background. As a silhouetted figure comes through a doorway, the camera turns erratically and 10 gunshots ring out.
“I looked him in his eyes while he killed my friends,” Dallas Knapp wrote on his post. “I hope he rots in hell for eternity.”
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IAN DAVID LONG