Ian David Long’s Military Background: The Shooter Was a Former Marine

Ian Long

Facebook A photo of Ian David Long.

Ian David Long, the suspect police say killed 12 people Wednesday night in a California bar, was an ex-Marine who may have suffered from PTSD, authorities revealed.

Early reports noted that Ian David Long had acquired a 45 caliber Glock legally and shot with excellent form- his military background may have to do with that. The Ventura County Sheriff confirmed that 28-year-old Long was a veteran of the Marines whose mental health was evaluated after an incident at his home last April.

A neighbor of Long’s also told ABC News that Long suffered from PTSD, and that they had “no idea what he was doing with a gun.”

Another neighbor, Richard Berge, told The Wall Street Journal that an incident with Long and his mother happened several months ago where he was throwing furniture and even fired a bullet through the wall. He was not arrested. Berge continued, “[Long’s mother] is a very sweet woman, but she had a lot of problems with the son. I just know he tore the house up.”

ian long

GettyIan Long

Here’s what you need to know:

Long’s Military Details Released by the United States Marine Corps

The Marine Corps released the details of Long’s service on Thursday morning. Long served in the Marine Corps from 2008-2013, and had a rank of corporal. His occupational specialty was machine gunning, and he received several awards during his service.

Those awards included: a Navy Unite Commendation (twice), a Navy Meritorious Unit Commendation, a Combat Active Ribbon, a Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal, a National Defense Service Medal, and a NATO Medal.

Long served a deployment in Afghanistan for Operation Enduring Freedom, from November 2010 to June 2011.

The Sheriff Says Long Was a Veteran Who Might Have Had PTSD

Ian Long

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The Ventura County sheriff confirmed in a news conference that Ian David Long had a military background, saying, “He is a veteran. He was in the United States Marine Corps.” According to TMZ, Ian Long served in Afghanistan.

A troubling incident occurred in April 2018, but the sheriff acknowledged that mental health evaluators did not ask for Ian Long to be taken into custody after it.

The sheriff said that there were “several contacts” with David Long over the years. In the April incident, Ian David Long was described by a neighbor as screaming and banging on the walls in the home where he lived, NBC reported. The neighbor called 911 in April thinking that Long was violent and possibly trying to hurt himself.

The sheriff described Long as irate, irrational, and said it was believed he might have been suffering from PTSD from his military background. Although mental health professionals evaluated him, they did not take him into custody, the sheriff revealed in a news conference.

“We’ve had several contacts with Mr. Long over the years…. In April of this year, deputies were called to his house for a subject disturbing. They went to the house they talked to him. He was somewhat irate, acting a little irrationally,” the Ventura County sheriff said. “They called out our crisis intervention team, our mental health specialists.”

The sheriff said those specialists “met with him, talked to him, cleared him. They didn’t feel he was qualified to be taken” into custody. “He was left at that scene last April.” He added, “The mental health experts cleared him that day.”

It’s not clear whether the gunman committed suicide at the scene in Thousand Oaks. “It’s well too early to know if he took his own life,” the sheriff said. He did not have further details on Ian Long’s service record. The sheriff said he was found dead “inside an office just adjacent to the bar.”

Ian Long


Throughout the event, Long used a handgun with “perfect form“, according to one witness who has family in the military, and reloaded the gun at least once. The sheriff said in a news conference that the gun was “legally purchased” and described it as a “Glock 21 .45 caliber. Designed to hold a magazine of 10 rounds and one in the chamber. He had an extended magazine on it.”

Authorities had had contact with Long over the years. The sheriff said Long was once the victim of battery at a local bar a couple years ago.

Mass Shooters in the United States Are Disproportionately Veterans, According to Several Studies

Ian Long

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According to an analysis of mass shootings that took place in the United States between 1982 and 2018, the vast majority of shooters were male (98 percent) and had mental health problems. But there’s another common denominator with mass shootings: many of them were veterans.

Approximately 34 percent of the 83 shootings committed by men between the ages of 18 and 59 were veterans, per an analysis by World Beyond War.  Veterans also have higher rates of mental health problems than civilians; one study reports that veterans kill themselves at a 50 percent higher rate than civilians, per The Los Angeles Times. 

As Hugh Gusterson, professor of international affairs at George Washington University notes to The New York Times, veterans account for 13 percent of the population, “but more than a third of the adult perpetrators of the 43 worst mass killings since 1984 had been in the United States military.” An NBC News timeline of mass shootings carried out by veterans since 2009 shows the extent of this truth.

Jodie Robison, the executive director of military services for Centerstone, a leading not-for-profit behavioral health organization, cautions against drawing a direct connection between veterans, specifically, and PTSD-related crimes.  “It is imperative we stop suggesting that veterans with PTSD are dangerous,” she said. “When we suggest this, we are creating a false narrative and contributing to the possibility that veterans with PTSD will not seek treatment due to fear of being thought of as such. Mental health issues, including PTSD, don’t just impact military service members and veterans, they impact the general population. The difference is that the connection between the general population with PTSD and dangerous behavior is absent.”

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