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Marine combat veteran kills 12 in California bar shooting

This is a developing story.

Posted: Nov 8, 2018 6:15 AM
Updated: Nov 8, 2018 2:20 PM

THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. (AP) — Using a smoke bomb and a handgun, a hooded Marine combat veteran dressed all in black opened fire during college night at a country music bar in Southern California, killing 12 people and sending hundreds fleeing in terror before apparently taking his own life, authorities said Thursday.

Authorities said the motive for the attack Wednesday night was under investigation.

The killer was identified as 28-year-old Ian David Long, a former machine gunner and 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 post-traumatic stress disorder.

Screaming in fear, patrons rushed for the exits, dived under tables and used barstools to smash second-floor windows and jump to safety as gunfire reverberated through the Borderline Bar & Grill, a hangout popular with students from nearby California Lutheran University.

"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."

The dead included 11 people inside the bar and a veteran sheriff's sergeant who was the first officer inside the door, Ventura County Sheriff Geoff Dean said.

"It's a horrific scene in there," Dean said in the parking lot. "There's blood everywhere."

Anxious family members gathered at a teen center in town to await word on the fate of loved ones who had gone to the club. Jason Coffman received confirmation 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 Wednesday night were not to drink and drive and that he loved him.

"Oh, Cody, I love you, son," Coffman sobbed.

The bloodshed was the latest in what seems to be a never-ending string of mass shootings that are happening with terrifying frequency across the United States.

It was the nation's deadliest such attack since 17 students and teachers were killed at a Parkland, Florida, high school nine months ago. It also came less than two weeks after a gunman massacred 11 people at a synagogue in Pittsburgh.

Democratic Gov.-elect Gavin Newsom, in his first public appearance since winning office on Tuesday, lamented the violence that has come again to California.

"It's a gun culture. It's a culture, and it's not about being Democrat or Republican," 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. The normalization, that's the only way I can describe it. It's become normalized."

President Donald Trump praised police for their "great bravery" in the attack and ordered flags flown at half-staff in honor of the victims.

Long was armed with a Glock 21, a .45-caliber pistol designed to hold 10 rounds plus one in the chamber, according to the sheriff. But it had an extended magazine — one capable of holding more ammunition — that is illegal in California, Dean said.

The killer also deployed a smoke device, a law enforcement official told The Associated Press. The official was not authorized to discuss the investigation publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.

Authorities converged on Long's home in Newbury Park, about 5 miles from the Borderline bar, in a search for clues to what set him off.

"There's no indication that he targeted the employees. We haven't found any correlation," the sheriff said. "Maybe there was a motive for this particular night, but we have no information leading to that at all."

Long was in the Marines from 2008 to 2013, rose to the rank of corporal and served in Afghanistan in 2010-11, the military said.

Authorities said he had no criminal record, but in April officers were called to his home, where deputies found him angry and acting irrationally. The sheriff said officers were told he might have PTSD because of his military service. A mental health specialist met with him and didn't feel he needed to be hospitalized.

Tom Hanson, 70, who lives next door to Long and his mother, said Thursday that he called the police about six months ago when he heard "heavy-duty banging" and shouting coming from the Longs' home.

"I was concerned because I knew he had been in the military," he said.

Hanson said the sheriff's deputy who arrived took his information, but he never learned more about what happened and hadn't spoken to Long since then. He said he was "dumbfounded" by the bloodshed.

The gunman was wearing all black with a hood, his face partly covered, witnesses told TV stations. He first shot a security guard standing outside, then went in and opened fire on staff members and patrons, the sheriff said.

Sheriff's Sgt. Ron Helus and a passing highway patrolman arrived around 11:20 p.m. in response to several 911 calls, heard gunfire and went inside, the sheriff said. Helus was immediately shot, Dean said.

The highway patrolman pulled Helus out, then waited as a SWAT team and scores more officers arrived. Helus died at a hospital.

By the time officers entered the bar again, the gunfire had stopped, according to the sheriff. They found 12 people dead inside, including the gunman, who was discovered in an ffice and had apparently shot himself, the sheriff said.

"There's no doubt that they saved lives by going in there and engaging with the suspect," said Dean, who was set to retire on Friday. He praised the slain officer — a close friend — as a hero: "He went in there to save people and paid the ultimate price."

In addition to the dead, one other person was wounded by gunfire, and as many as 15 others suffered minor injuries from jumping out windows or diving under tables, authorities said.

People at the bar fled from all exits, broke through windows and hid in the attic and bathrooms, the sheriff said.

"Unfortunately our young people, people at nightclubs, have learned that this may happen, and they think about that. Fortunately it helped save a lot of lives that they fled the scene so rapidly," he said.

Shootings of any kind are extremely rare in Thousand Oaks, a city of about 130,000 people about 40 miles (64 kilometers) from Los Angeles, just across the county line.

The Borderline, which includes a large dance hall along with several smaller areas for eating and drinking, was holding one of its regular "College Country Nights."

Nick Steinwender, Cal Lutheran student body president, told KTLA-TV he immediately started receiving messages about the shooting, and he and his roommate went to the scene to offer rides back to campus or moral support.

"It's going to be a very somber day," Steinwender said. "I know we don't have all the details in yet, but you know, it just feels like it's an attack on our community. You know, I think it's going to be something that we're going to have to come together and move past."

The bar is also close to several other universities, including California State University Channel Islands in Camarillo, Pepperdine University in Malibu and Moorpark College in Moorpark.

Cole Knapp, a freshman at Moorpark, said he was inside the bar when the shooting began, but thought at first that it was "just someone with an M-80, just kind of playing a prank." Then he said he saw the gunman, wearing a small black head covering and black hoodie.

"I tried to get as many people to cover as I could," Knapp said. "There was an exit right next to me, so I went through that. That exit leads to a patio where people smoke. People out there didn't really know what was going on. There's a fence right there so I said, 'Everyone get over the fence as quickly as you can,' and I followed them over."

He said a highway patrol officer happened to be pulling someone over nearby.

"I screamed to him, 'There's a shooter in there!' He was kind of in disbelief, then saw that I was serious," Knapp said. He said he had friends who were unaccounted for.

Tayler Whitler, 19, said she was on the dance floor when she saw the gunman shooting and heard screams of "Get down!"

"It looked like he knew what he was doing," Whitler told KABC-TV.

Around midday, the body of the slain sheriff's officer was taken by motorcade from the hospital to the coroner's office. Thousands of people stood along the route or pulled over in their vehicles to watch the hearse pass. Firefighters paid tribute by using two ladder trucks to raise a giant American flag over the route.

Helus was a 29-year veteran of the force with a wife and son and planned to retire in the coming year, said the sheriff, choking back tears.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 245847

Reported Deaths: 5356
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto16717168
Hinds15748310
Harrison12806188
Rankin10334204
Jackson9996172
Lee8666135
Madison7994158
Jones6112108
Forrest5826117
Lauderdale5672174
Lowndes5186106
Lafayette482792
Lamar471162
Washington4700122
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Panola357274
Pontotoc356552
Monroe3463101
Union334755
Warren334692
Marshall333264
Neshoba3310149
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Leflore2969104
Lincoln290185
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Tate264759
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Itawamba257058
Pike254876
Hancock246957
Prentiss240047
Scott238743
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Tippah233845
Simpson230166
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Coahoma219054
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Winston196260
George195937
Wayne193029
Attala190958
Newton185142
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Tishomingo179059
Holmes167467
Jasper163533
Clay155632
Stone138818
Tallahatchie137033
Clarke135160
Calhoun132021
Smith117322
Yalobusha112534
Walthall110536
Noxubee108922
Greene108229
Montgomery107134
Carroll102320
Lawrence99817
Perry98631
Amite95725
Webster90024
Claiborne84125
Tunica84021
Jefferson Davis82925
Humphreys80324
Benton79722
Kemper75620
Quitman6678
Franklin64613
Choctaw59412
Wilkinson57424
Jefferson52019
Sharkey42317
Issaquena1576
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Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 414583

Reported Deaths: 5945
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson60842887
Mobile29590538
Madison26466183
Tuscaloosa20537267
Montgomery18562304
Shelby18181112
Baldwin15841177
Lee1212097
Morgan12002112
Etowah11488142
Calhoun10863197
Marshall10048106
Houston8405123
Cullman792294
Limestone785073
Elmore7670101
DeKalb757282
St. Clair7417120
Lauderdale740282
Talladega6036108
Walker5834176
Jackson571937
Colbert522270
Blount521980
Autauga507555
Coffee431456
Dale388278
Franklin362145
Chilton332965
Covington325567
Russell318910
Escambia309842
Dallas297988
Chambers275769
Clarke272933
Tallapoosa2591107
Pike245829
Lawrence239345
Marion238649
Winston222535
Bibb211347
Geneva196331
Marengo196329
Pickens195331
Hale172542
Barbour169636
Butler166958
Fayette164026
Cherokee158330
Henry149219
Monroe143617
Randolph137635
Washington135426
Clay124446
Crenshaw117444
Lamar116819
Cleburne115123
Macon111935
Lowndes107935
Wilcox99921
Bullock97128
Perry95019
Conecuh92820
Sumter89126
Greene75123
Coosa59814
Choctaw50824
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