Blake Dingman, a 21-year-old Newbury Park native, tragically lost his life Wednesday night when a gunman opened fire at Borderline Bar & Grill in Thousand Oaks, California. Dingman is remembered by loved ones as “fun, energetic and really loving.”
Borderline Bar & Grill was attacked during its weekly “College Country Nights,” a popular event for the 18-and-up college crowd. Dingman lost his life when gunman Ian Long, a black-clad ex-Marine with mental health troubles, opened fire shortly before 11:30 p.m. local time, killing 12 and wounding several more in a horrific scene in which people hid in bathrooms and smashed windows out to try to escape.
Dingman was close friends with another one of the victims, Jake Dunham, who was also a Newbury Park native and an avid off-roader.
Here’s what we know about Dingman:
Dingman Played High School Baseball & Was a Truck & Off-Roading Enthusiast & Had a “Magnetic Personality”
Dingman played high school baseball at Hilcrest Christian School, according to Kyle Jorrey, the editor of the Thousand Oaks Acorn. His former baseball coach told Jorrey that Dingman had a “magnetic personality,” and added, “He loved the game of baseball but he loved his friends and family even more.”
In brief phone interview with the Pasadena Star News, Dingman’s great aunt, Janet Dingman of Thousand Oaks, confirmed that he was a victim.
“We were really proud of him,” Janet Dingman said. “He was a really, fun, energetic and loving nephew.”
His childhood friend, Tucker Gibson, who had been searching for Dingman after the shooting, told the Wall Street Journal, “You can’t go anywhere anymore. I came here from L.A. when I was two because my mom wanted to get away from danger.”
Dingman was an avid off-roader, posting photos of his 1993 Ford Ranger from scenic spots around Southern California. At the request of Dingman’s younger brother, No Sways Offroad announced a memorial meet-up in honor of “Jake and Blake,” set for Monday in Thousand Oaks.
“I know we’re all heartbroken so let’s send them off in a way they’d want!” the announcement said.
Dingman is survived his his parents and younger brother.
Dingman’s Instagram Page Was Filled With Tributes to the Newbury Park Native, Remembering His Kind & Easygoing Demeanor & His Love of Baseball
Dingman’s Instagram page was flooded with tributes to the young man, with hundreds of strangers from around the country leaving “Rest in Peace,” and “God bless.” Many people apologized to Dingman’s family for their tragic loss.
One user wrote: “Never forget our talks and hugs! Watch over your family from paradise,” while another said “Rest easy Blake, Ill never forget the time we shared on the baseball diamond. Another life taken far too soon.”
Those who new Dingman reminisced about good times on the baseball pitch, growing up together through elementary and high school, and how his “zest for life was contagious.” He was often remembered for how easygoing, kind and funny he was.
“Rest In Peace Blake you were such a great friend and always made people laugh. You will be missed so much. You and your family is in my prayers,” another user wrote.
Other Victims Include a Sheriff Who Ran In To Rescue Others, a Bouncer Who Helped People Escape By Smashing Windows & an Eagle Scout Who Survived The Las Vegas Massacre, Only To Perish in Thousand Oaks
The Ventura County Sheriff’s Office says one of its deputies, Sergeant Ron Helus, is among the dead. Helus died a hero, while rushing into the building to try to save the lives of other people still desperately trying to escape the bar. Helus, 54, was a 29-year veteran of the department and a married father who was planning to retire next year.
Justin Meek, a 23-year-old California Lutheran University graduate, was also killed during the rampage. Meek died heroically and “saved lives in the incident,” after using himself as a barricade. He was a bouncer at Borderline Bar & Grill and was attempting to break windows and help others escape when he was shot and killed. His sister was in the bar as well, and survived the attack.
Telemachus Orfanos, an Eagle Scout, survived the Las Vegas massacre outside Mandalay Bay only to perish during the mass shooting in Thousand Oaks. His mother gave a heart wrenching interview demanding gun control after her son didn’t come home from a second massacre.
“My son was in Las Vegas with a lot of his friends and he came home. He didn’t come home last night, and I don’t want prayers. I don’t want thoughts. I want gun control, and I hope to God nobody sends me anymore prayers. I want gun control. No more guns,” she said to a television station.
The other victims have also been identified: Cody Coffman, Alaina Housley, Daniel Manrique, Sean Adler, Noel Sparks, Kristina Morisette, Jake Dunham, and Mark Meza Jr.
A verified GoFundMe page has been started to honor the victims of the shooting, and has raised nearly $32,000 of the $50,000 goal.