A gunman opened fire at a crowded bar in Southern California Wednesday night, killing 12 people and wounding many others.
The Borderline Bar and Grill in Thousand Oaks is popular among local college students. It was holding its weekly country music and dance night at the time of the shooting.
Police have identified the suspected killer as 28-year-old Ian David Long, a former Marine. He was found dead in the office of the Borderline, after reportedly having shot himself.
Ventura County Sheriff Geoff Dean told reporters Thursday that Long had served in Afghanistan. Dean said Long reportedly used a handgun in the attack. The gun had a special device that permitted it to hold more bullets than usual. The device is illegal in California.
There was no known motive for the shooting, Dean said. He added, “Obviously he had something going on in his head that would cause him to do something like this.”
It is the latest mass killing in the United States, and comes less than two weeks after 11 people were killed in a shooting at a Jewish religious center.
It also marks the deadliest mass shooting in the country since 17 people were killed earlier this year at a high school in Parkland, Florida.
The Borderline Bar is popular with students of California Lutheran University, Pepperdine University and other area schools.
Nineteen-year-old Cole Knapp was inside Borderline at the time of the shooting. He told the Reuters news agency that he saw the shooter enter the bar and stop at the counter. Then, Knapp said, he heard gunfire and saw a young woman at the counter shot repeatedly.
Knapp said, “It took a couple of seconds for people to realize what was going on and once that happened it was just utter chaos."
Seargent Ron Helus of Ventura County Sheriff's Office was the first law enforcement official to arrive at the Borderline Wednesday night. He was shot inside and later died at a hospital.
Dean said he believed about 150 to 200 people were inside the bar at the time of the shooting. “It could have been much, much worse,” he said.
Dean told reporters that officers went to the home of the suspected shooter about six months ago. Neighbor Tom Hanson had called the police with concerns about Long’s behavior.
Hanson told the Associated Press he had heard shouting and loud noises coming from the Longs’ home. He said, “I was concerned because I knew he had been in the military.”
Mental health specialists talked with Long and found that no special action was necessary.
Long had no criminal record.
President Donald Trump ordered flags to be flown at half-staff at public buildings and other areas Thursday. On Twitter, he praised police and other law enforcement for their “great bravery.” He also wrote, “God bless all of the victims and families of the victims.”
U.S. Representative Jerry Nadler is the top Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee. He said lawmakers would seek to pass gun control legislation when the House meets in January with a Democratic majority. He wrote on Twitter, “We must find a way to stop the senseless and many times preventable killings that are robbing our country of innocent lives.”
Thousand Oaks is a wealthy area about 60 kilometers northwest of Los Angeles. The website Niche named it the third-safest city in the United States in 2018.
Dean told reporters Thursday, “I’ve learned it doesn’t matter what community you’re in….It doesn’t matter how safe your community is. It can happen anywhere.”
I’m Caty Weaver.
Ashley Thompson adapted this story based on articles by Reuters and the Associated Press. Caty Weaver was the editor.
Words in This Story
bar - n. a building or room where alcoholic drinks and sometimes food are served
marine - n. a member of the U.S. Marine Corps (Marine Corps: the part of the U.S. military that consists of soldiers who serve at sea and also on land)
motive - n. a reason for doing something
counter - n. a piece of furniture with a flat surface that workers and customers stand on opposite sides of when doing business in a store, restaurant, etc.
utter - adj. complete and total
chaos - n. complete confusion and disorder : a state in which behavior and events are not controlled by anything
half-staff - n. the position in the middle of a mast or pole