Even as authorities and families were trying to fathom a motive for the mass shooting of 12 at a bar in Ventura County, California, people began to post comments on the Facebook page of suspect Ian Long’s mother, Colleen. The 28-year-old alleged mass shooter is dead, reportedly of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Colleen Long hadn’t posted anything in the past few days save a fundraiser for a friend’s birthday. But since her page settings permit anyone to comment on her posts, they did. Some angry. Some accusatory. But also, many more sending up prayers and messages of support. And advice.
“The harassment here is not ok. Colleen, Facebook let’s you set all posts to friends only instead of public” wrote the person who offered a link for Facebook settings. “I can’t imagine what you are going through. I am sorry for your loss.”
Ventura County Sheriff Geoff Dean said the former Marine who did two tours in Afghanistan had PTSD. Neighbors told media Colleen Long suffered as her son’s behavior was erratic and worrisome. Former friends and acquaintances described him as “weird.”
Colleen Long was photographed Thursday hours after her son is alleged by police and witnesses to have opened fire on a nightclub full of teenagers. Long is alleged to have shot and killed a police officer and a security guard and 10 others including young people at the Borderline Bar & Grill’s College Country Night, line dancing and having fun. Until, as police allege, Long walked in the door after having shot and killed a bouncer and then opened fire.
One person who commented on Colleen Long’s Facebook page wrote, “Sorry for your loss and the harassment you must be dealing with from hateful trolls. Stay strong.”
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Long Lived Alone With His Mother Colleen. Neighbors Describe Long as Troubled & Police Were Called in April When Long Was ‘Irate’ & Acting ‘Irrationally’
Long, who was honorably discharged from the Marines in 2013, lived with his mother Colleen in Newbury Park, in the western section of Thousand Oaks. Federal agents and Ventura County Sheriff’s detectives descend on the house the mother and son and two dogs shared Thursday morning. Neighbors told local and national media Long was a loner and one said Colleen Long complained about her son. Then, in April of this year, neighbor Tom Hanson told local media Long could be heard yelling and banging on the walls in the home and called 911 believing Long might be a danger to himself or others.
“Sounded like he was tearing down the walls of the house — like someone’s just beating on the walls with a big hammer,” Hanson told KTLA.
“Ian Long’s next door neighbor tells me he had to call the Sheriff’s Dept. back in April because he was worried there was something wrong when he heard Long banging on doors and yelling. That’s the incident the @VENTURASHERIFF referred to at a news conference earlier. @10News”
In a press conference Thursday late morning, Ventura County Sheriff Geoff Dean said police had encountered Long previously and made reference to the April call to 911. He said deputies went to the house and found Long “somewhat irate, acting a little irrationally.” Dean said Long suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
USA Today reported Long neighbor Donald MacLeod, 79, “often heard the volatile adult son arguing with his mother at all hours, sometimes “in the middle of the night, at 2 a.m.” MacLeod told the paper that a year he once heard a gunshot coming from inside the Long house. He said Long was “troubled” adding serving in Afghanistan “made it worse.” He said he was “not surprised at all,” to learn of Long’s alleged mass shooting: “I did not trust the guy.”
And neighbor Richard Berge, 77, told the Los Angeles Times that Long had PTSD.
“She’s a very sweet woman, but she had a lot of problems with the son,” Berge said of Long’s mother. “I just know he tore the house up.” Berge told CNN Colleen Long was “beside herself, she didn’t know what to do because he wouldn’t get help.”
2. Long Was Evaluated by a Mental Health Worker & Was Not Recommended to be Placed on a Psych Hold, Called a 5150
“We’ve had several contacts with Mr. Long over the years,” Dean said in the press conference. He said there were minor incidents including a car accident. And, he said Long himself was a victim in an attack at a bar. Few other details were provided on that incident.
But Sheriff Dean added that when deputies responded to the Long house in April, the sheriff’s office brought its “crisis intervention team, our mental health specialists” who “cleared him.” Dean said a mental health specialist who talked with Long “didn’t feel he was qualified to be taken under 5150.” Dean was referring to the California Welfare and Institutions code 5150 for the involuntary psychiatric commitment of an person considered a danger to themselves or others because of a mental health disorder. Post traumatic Stress Disorder is a psychiatric disorder per the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs apparently no longer has a section on their website devoted to PTSD.
It’s not clear if dean knew Long had PTSD before or after the April incident, but he did say Long suffered from the post-traumatic disorder not uncommon in veterans, especially young men and women who have served in the Afghan War, experts have said.
Thursday, CNN reported that federal agents discovered a Facebook post purported to have been written by Long before the mass shooting. The post, it’s reported, read, “I hope people call me insane… (laughing emojis).. wouldn’t that just be a big ball of irony? Yeah.. I’m insane, but the only thing you people do after these shootings is ‘hopes and prayers’…or ‘keep you in my thoughts’… every time… and wonder why these keep happening…”
3. Some Family of Colleen Long, a Business Analyst at Dole, Have Asked for Prayers & Encouraged Long to ‘Stay Strong. Some on Her Facebook Page Have Been Accusatory & Angry
According to her LinkedIn, Long has worked for Dole since 2005 first as a senior business system analyst and now as a Systems, Applications and Products Business Analyst.
According to her Facebook page, that has since been removed, Long also worked for Vans, the skateboard shoe manufacturer. She attended Patrick Henry High School. She has shared posts and photos of her son and family and her dogs. But since her page was public, people began commenting on her page and some posts were damning. And many others were sympathetic.
Meanwhile, her niece Amber Schramm asked people to pray for their family and reassured Colleen Long to be “strong.”
4. Long, a Former College Student, Served as a U.S. Marine Deployed Twice to Afghanistan. He Married in 2009 & Divorced in 2013
Ian Long attended California State University at Northridge. He’d posted on an internet forum he was working on a degree. The college released a statement:
“On behalf of California State University, Northridge, our hearts and thoughts are with the victims, survivors, first responders and loved ones affected by the horrific massacre that occurred in Thousand Oaks last night. We have learned that the reported shooter is a former CSUN student, who last attended in 2016.”
Long served as a U.S. Marine from Aug. 4, 2008 to Mar. 2, 2013. He was a machine gunner, promoted to corporal on Aug. 1, 2011. He received two Navy Unit Commendations, a Navy Meritorious Unit Commendation, a Combat Action Ribbon, a National Defense Service Medal, a Good Conduct Medal and more. He deployed to Afghanistan from Nov. 16, 2010 to June 14, 2011 and his last duty assignment was 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii.
USMC Commandant Gen. Robert B. Neller tweeted condolences to the victims’ families “in this senseless tragedy.”
While in the military, in June of 2009, Long married Stavroula Tzavaras in Hawaii, USA Today reported. But the marriage did not last according to Ventura County court records;, the couple’s divorce was final five years ago to the week, in November of 2013.
5. Long Practiced Dance Moves Alone in his Garage & Gym & Had Visited Borderline Bar & Grill Previously, His Former Roommate Said
A man who said he was Long’s former roommate told the New York Post Long was “…kind of weird. He always locked himself in his room, he was always by himself,” Blake Winnett was quoted as saying while admitting he “didn’t really know him very well.”
Nonetheless, Winnett told The Post Long had been to Borderline and had practiced dancing in his garage. Winnett also said Long “would go to the gym and then he would, I guess, try to learn dance moves or something. He would close the garage and be playing music and dancing in there, like sweating. I would open the garage and would be like, ‘What are you doing?’”
Police have said they’ve not yet landed on a motive for what they allege Long did.
“We have no idea what the motive was at this point,” Sheriff Dean said, adding that there is no evidence suspect Long targeted any employees or other people in the bar.