A typical college night at Borderline Bar & Grill in Thousand Oaks, Calif., took a horrific turn Nov. 7 when Ian Long, 28-year-old former U.S. Marine, opened fire inside the restaurant and fatally shot at least 12 people, including one police officer, Sgt. Ron Helus.
The Ventura County Sheriff’s Office reported hundreds of people were inside the bar at the time and that, although the exact number is still unclear, a reported 22 people had been taken to local hospitals to be treated for injuries.
Witnesses said the gunman began firing around 11:20 p.m. at a security officer outside before entering the establishment. He then walked inside and began shooting at other employees before turning the gun on college students and Thousand Oaks residents.
People inside Borderline began breaking windows, hiding under stools and in the bathrooms, and dropping to the floor to escape the gunfire.
By the time authorities arrived at the scene, Long had killed himself with a legally obtained Glock 21 .45-caliber handgun.
Sheriff Geoff Dean said in a press conference Thursday afternoon that he had never experienced a mass shooting in his 41 years in law enforcement. He later said the massacre happened on his last day serving as sheriff.
“I never thought I would see the things around the country that would happen, but I’ve learned it doesn’t matter what community you’re in,” Dean said. “It doesn’t matter how safe your community is; it can happen anywhere.”
In 2016, Thousand Oaks was rated one of the safest cities in the nation, and only two people had been killed by firearms this year prior to Wednesday night’s tragic events.
In an news conference Thursday, Paul Delacourt, assistant FBI director, said the investigation was ongoing, although the bureau had no reason to believe the shooter was acting with anyone else.
Delacourt also said he did not want to speculate on Long’s motivation.
Capt. Garo Kuredjian confirmed the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department had notified the victims’ families, but the official list will not be released until later Nov. 8.
Borderline draws many college students from the area for its weekly 18-and-older College Country Nights. Sixteen of those students were from Pepperdine University, where Borderline is a popular hangout among its students.
Freshman Alaina Housley was killed in the attack, according to a university press release, while two other Pepperdine students were treated for injuries and released from a local hospital.
Recent California Lutheran University graduate Justin Meek, 23, was also confirmed dead, according to a CLU statement. Meek worked as a bouncer at Borderline and “heroically saved lives in the incident,” the press release stated.
It is still unclear how many other students were at Borderline Wednesday night. Other colleges near Borderline include California State University, Channel Islands, as well as Moorpark, Ventura and Oxnard colleges.
This shooting comes less than two weeks after a gunman killed 11 people in a synagogue in Pittsburgh, nine months after 17 were killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida, and 13 months after the largest mass shooting in the nation’s history, the Route 91 Harvest Festival massacre in Las Vegas where 59 people were fatally shot.
The Borderline shooting is Southern California’s most fatal attack since 14 were killed in San Bernardino in 2015.
Because of its western-style atmosphere, Borderline draws local country music fans — many of whom made the trip to Las Vegas for last October’s Route 91 festival. Dozens of people who survived that massacre were also present at Borderline and have now seen two mass shootings in just over a year, including CBU alumna Morgan Kelly’s brother, Brendon Kelly.
Brendon Kelly, a U.S. Marine, shielded and protected Ellen Davis, junior political science and international studies double major, and Renee Cesario, Riverside resident, when the gunman began shooting last October at Route 91. Despite only meeting a few hours prior, Brendon Kelly then led the group to safety and kept them all unharmed.
Shawn Guzman, Thousand Oaks resident, was at The Tipsy Goat, an Irish pub one block from Borderline, as the Wednesday night shooting began.
“As my co-workers and I were leaving Tipsy Goat, all we saw was a few people rushing in terror and we didn’t know what was going on,” Guzman said. “We saw people covered in blood and just in a panic.”
John Glenn, sophomore communication studies major at California Baptist University and Thousand Oaks resident, received news about his hometown Thursday morning and immediately checked on his family and friends.
“I’ve been on edge all morning waiting to see if anyone I knew would show up on the list of victims,” Glenn said. “I’ve never seen anything so bad in my life living in that town. Thousand Oaks is a great place and it always will be. It hurts to see something like this happen there.”
As of Nov. 8, the Gun Violence Archive has reported more than 300 mass shootings in 2018 with more than 325 people fatally shot.
Thousand Oaks residents have started the Conejo Valley Victims Fund to aid victims’ families and can be found here. All funds donated will go to the families of those affected.