November 8, 9.26pm
Using a smoke bomb and a handgun, a hooded former Marine 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 panic 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 decorated combat veteran of the war in Afghanistan who authorities said had an episode of erratic behavior last spring that they were told might be post-traumatic stress disorder.
Sacramento: Authorities in Thousand Oaks, California, northwest of Los Angeles, reported 13 fatalities at a bar and dance hall late on Wednesday after multiple shots were fired by a man inside.
Ron Helus, a sheriff’s sergeant, was among those killed. The gunman, who opened fire without warning, was found dead inside the Borderline Bar and Grill, authorities said. The venue was filled with young people for ‘College Country Night.”
Ventura County Sheriff Geoff Dean said he had no reason to believe that there was a link to terrorism, “but we certainly will look at that option.” The only weapon recovered by early Thursday was a handgun, he said.
“It’s a horrific incident,” Dean told reporters. “It’s part of the horrors that are happening in our country and everywhere, and I think it’s impossible to put any logic or any sense to the senseless.”
The deputy, who died at the hospital about an hour after sustaining his injury, was a 29-year veteran of the force and was expecting to retire soon. He was survived by a wife and a son. “He died a hero,” Dean said, “because he went into save lives.”
In addition to the dead, Dean estimated that there were upward of 10 to 12 shooting victims who were “rescued from the scene and taken to local hospitals.” Additional victims with minor injuries fled the scene on their own, he added.
“I know there are parents wondering, ‘Oh my gosh, was one of my children in there? Or was it my sister or my brother?’” he said.
Reports of a shooter came in about 11:20pm Pacific time on Wednesday, and deputies arrived on the scene at 11:22pm, authorities said.
Helus, the sheriff’s sergeant entered the venue with a highway patrol officer several minutes later, at which point Helus was struck “multiple times,” Dean said. The highway patrol officer stepped back and secured the perimeter.
The gunfire briefly quieted, the sheriff said, as people scrambled to hide in restrooms and in attics.
“It was sheer panic,” said Teylor Whittler, 19, who was inside the venue at the time. “Everyone ran and dropped as fast as they could.”
She said she ran to the back door, where people crowded during a pause in the gunfire. “And then all, of a sudden, a couple of guys started running to the back door and said, ‘Get up he’s coming.’”
The Borderline Bar describes itself as the county’s largest country dance hall and live music venue. With a dance floor covering about 2,500 square feet, it is open until 2am five days a week.
Authorities said more than 100 were inside at the time of the shooting. Scores of colleges lie within a 20 mile radius of the bar, including Pepperdine University, California Lutheran University and Moorpark College.
Claire Gietzen told an ABC affiliate that she ran behind the bar when gunshots broke out, but then joined a man who pulled down a ladder leading into the attic.
“He motioned for me to follow him. I thought that was the best option at the time,” she said. “[We heard] gunshot after gunshot. I heard glass breaking. I heard commotion and screaming. We kept thinking it would stop for a while, that we were OK, and then it would start up again.”
Special weapons and tactics teams arrived on the scene a short time later, along with the FBI. Video from the scene showed bar-goers rushing injured people to medical response vehicles.
When the authorities re-entered the nightclub, they found the suspect — whom they believe to be the lone gunman — dead inside, Dean said.
“We don’t know who shot the deputy,” he added. “We don’t know who shot anybody at this point.”
He said that authorities have not yet identified the suspect.
Matt Wennerstrom of Newbury Park, California, a regular at the bar, described the shooter as a “tall figure,” over 6 feet, wearing “all dark clothing.” He said he saw the gunman open fire on employees working at the front of the bar.
“At that point I grabbed as many people around me as I could and pulled them down underneath the pool table that we were closest to until he ran out of bullets for that magazine and had to reload,” the eyewitness said.
During the pause, Wennerstrom, 20, said he and others threw barstools through a window and helped people escape. He told ABC he was able to push “30 or 35 people through that window.”
A man and his stepfather interviewed by ABC said they heard about 12 shots before they were able to exit through the front door of the nightclub.
“He fired the first shot,” the stepfather said. “And I knew it was real. My son thought it was a joke, so I pulled him down and got some cover. I looked up, and he was moving to the right. He shot the front doorman, who was just a young man. Then he shot the cashier, just a young girl.”
Multiple eyewitnesses described seeing smoke, possibly from smoke bombs.
Rochelle Hammons, 24, told The Post that she heard four shots before she was able to flee.
“All of a sudden we heard four shots, you know, ‘bang, bang, bang, bang.’ Everyone got down on the floor. Everyone ducked and covered each other,” she said. “As everyone crouched down on the floor, I figured that my only chance would be to run out to the nearest exit. I saw the nearest exit, and I ran out as fast as I could.”
From inside her car, she saw the first police officer arrive, she said. She rolled down her window and told him there was an active shooter inside.
“You gotta hurry, you gotta get in there,” she urged him.
The shooting unfolded just over a year after 58 people were killed at a country music festival in Las Vegas when Stephen Paddock, 64, opened fire from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino.
PTSD: the signature wound for many veterans
Authorities in Southern California have identified the gunman who killed 12 people in a crowded bar as 28-year-old Ian David Long, a former Marine who may have been suffering from PTSD.
Here is a look at Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and the impact it has on veterans.
How big a problem?
Millions of veterans are dealing with PTSD, a signature wound of any war.
Symptoms can range from insomnia and depression to debilitating panic attacks, flashbacks, irritability and self-harming behavior.
Estimates vary, but the US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) believes up to 20 percent of Iraq War and Afghanistan vets suffer from PTSD.
The VA says about 30 per cent of Vietnam vets have experienced PTSD in their lifetime.
PTSD is caused by a range of factors. Sometimes it is a reaction to witnessing the horrors of war.
The constant state of high alertness troops experience in war zones can also contribute.
For instance, in Iraq, troops were often perpetually alert, looking for roadside bombs and ambushes.
The excessive brain activity can be hard to calm after a person leaves a combat zone.
Treatment protocols are often changing, but doctors typically prescribe anti-depressants.
The VA says the preferred recourse comes through various types of psychotherapy.
In 2006, the VA started training clinicians in techniques such as cognitive-processing therapy, where a patient learns about and processes their trauma.
The VA also uses other methods aimed at desensitizing a veteran.
Paula Schnurr, executive director of the VA's National Center for PTSD, says treatments have come a long way over the past decade and in many cases it is effectively curable.
Recognition of the condition has improved in recent decades.
Whereas vets from America's 20th-century conflicts often kept their trauma secret, military commanders now encourage troops to talk about and get help for any signs of PTSD.
History of shootings
Washington: In the latest mass shooting in the United States, a gunman killed 12 people Thursday in a California music bar packed with college students.
Here is a recap of some of the other most deadly shootings in the country in the past 10 years.
Las Vegas: 58 dead
On October 1, 2017 a heavily armed "lone wolf" gunman opens fire from a 32-floor hotel room on an open-air concert on the Las Vegas Strip.
He kills 58 people before turning the gun on himself. Around 500 are wounded.
Daesh claims the 64-year-old is one of its "soldiers" but the FBI says it finds no such connection.
Florida club: 49 killed
A 29-year-old gunman opens fire inside a gay nightclub in the Florida city of Orlando on June 12, 2016 and kills 49 people.
The shooter, who pledged allegiance to the IS group in a 911 call during the attack, is killed in a shootout when police storm the building.
Sandy Hook: 27 killed
A 20-year-old man kills his mother in Newtown, Connecticut, in December 2012 before blasting his way into Sandy Hook Elementary School and shooting dead 20 six- and seven-year-old children and six adults.
He commits suicide.
Texas church: 26 dead
A gunman opens fire with an assault rifle during a Sunday morning church service in the rural Texan community of Sutherland Springs on November 5, 2017, killing 26 people and wounding 20.
The gunman, aged 26, is found dead in his vehicle.
Florida school: 17 dead
A former student opens fire at a high school in Parkland, Florida, on February 14, 2018, killing 15 people on the premises with two dying in hospital.
A 19-year-old who had been expelled for disciplinary reasons is arrested.
California office party: 14 dead
A newlywed radicalized Muslim couple storm a Christmas office party at a social services center in San Bernardino, California on December 2, 2015 and gun down 14 people, wounding 22 others. They are shot dead by police.
Fort Hood military base: 13 dead
On November 5, 2009 a US army psychiatrist opens fire at his military base in Killeen, Texas, killing 13 people and wounding 42, before being overpowered by police.
New York immigrant center: 13 dead
A Vietnamese immigrant shoots dead 13 people at a civic center in the city of Binghamton, New York on April 3, 2009, before killing himself.
Navy Yard: 12 dead
A former serviceman shoots randomly at workers at the Washington Navy Yard, a military compound in southeast Washington, on September 16, 2013, killing 12 people before he is shot dead by officers.
Colorado cinema: 12 dead
A young man wearing body armor storms a cinema showing a late-night premiere of a Batman film in Aurora, Colorado on July 20 2012, opening fire and releasing tear gas. Twelve people are killed and 70 wounded. He is sentenced to life in prison.
Synagogue: 11 dead
A gunman opens fire at the Tree of Life synagogue in the northeastern city of Pittsburgh on October 27, 2018, killing 11 people before being taken into custody.
He reportedly yelled "All Jews must die!" during the attack.
High school: 10 dead
A 17-year-old student bursts into a classroom and opens fire at the Santa Fe High School, near Houston, on May 18, 2008, killing 10 people.
The Grade 11 student, who uses a shotgun and revolver legally owned by his father, is taken into custody on murder charges.
Alabama: 10 dead
On March 10, 2009 a heavily armed gunman goes on a shooting spree in three towns in southern Alabama, mowing down 10 people including his mother and grandmother.
The 28-year-old turns a gun on himself after being cornered by police.