Ian Long, the black-clad gunman who opened fire in a crowded Thousand Oaks college bar, killing 12 people, was a decorated military veteran who served in Afghanistan and whose mental health troubles first drew authorities to his home last spring.
The shooting happened at Borderline Bar & Grill, a country music-themed restaurant in Ventura County. It was “College Country Night” at the bar, a weekly event. Witnesses described a horrific scene in which people hid in bathrooms and under a pool table and smashed windows in desperate efforts to escape.
The suspect wrote a disturbing Facebook post shortly before the carnage, CNN reported that authorities believe. “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…” it says, according to CNN. TMZ reported that, according to law enforcement sources, Ian Long “held a gun in one hand and his phone in the other, posting messages on his Instagram Story during Wednesday night’s massacre.” According to TMZ, the page is now deleted, and it’s not clear what he was saying in the messages.
Some news outlets said the suspect – described as a “weird” loner by a former roommate – was David Ian Long, but the sheriff identified him as Ian David Long. The victims have not yet been named by authorities but some of their names have been released by loved ones. His darkness dated to high school when he wrote “death” after baseball for his goals.
Among the first named: Justin Meek, 23, a recent graduate of California Lutheran University. President Chris Kimball said Meek “heroically saved lives in the incident.” Alaina Housley was a Pepperdine University student who described herself on Instagram as “kind.” Her iPhone location showed she was on the dance floor. Telemachus Orfanos was an Eagle Scout who survived the Las Vegas mass shooting but died at Borderline.
Cody Coffman, 22, also died, his distraught father confirmed. Cody’s dad was on television many times during the morning emotionally explaining how he was looking for his son. In a heartbreaking press conference, Cody’s dad described how his son was speaking to recruiters about joining the military. “His name was Cody Coffman. My first-born son….Oh, son, I love you so much,” the extremely emotional father said, describing himself as speechless and heartbroken.
The shooter was “Ian David Long, birthday March 27, 1990. He was 28-years-old,” the Ventura County Sheriff said.
The white male from California died of a gunshot wound at the scene. According to NBC News, the shooter drove his mother’s vehicle to the bar, but authorities later said this was not confirmed. Police said the gunman was “heavily tattooed,” but did not provide details about the tattoos, which were used to identify him along with fingerprints, NBC News reports.
“I was thinking that might be the last day of my life. I was just hoping not to get killed,” one witness told KTLA-TV of the shooting, which unfolded in the late evening hours of November 7, 2018. He was eventually rescued by the SWAT team. A woman in the neighborhood described how young people, most ages 18 or 19, “were running everywhere.” Blood covered the sidewalks, and witnesses described how they hid in the bathroom.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. The Shooter Served in Afghanistan as a Machine Gunner & Underwent a Recent Mental Health Eval for Acting ‘Irate’
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. He joined the military shortly after high school.
The Marine Corps said that Long served in the military from August 4, 2008 through March 2, 2013 and earned the rank of corporal, according to journalist Cassie Carlisle.
Ian Long was a machine gunner who received numerous awards, including a Navy Unit Commendation, Navy Meritorious Unit Commendation, Combat Action Ribbon, Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal, Sea Service Deployment Ribbon X2, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, National Defense Service Medal, and NATO Medal – ISAF Afghanistan.
He was deployed to Afghanistan from November 16, 2010 through June 14, 2011. He was assigned to the 3rd Marine Regiment, Third Marine Division, in Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii, and he entered active duty in Los Angeles California, she reported. In the statement, the Marine Corps expressed condolences to the victims.
A relative filled her Facebook page, which Heavy has reviewed, with pictures of Ian Long in military uniform.
With one photo of many military men standing in camouflage with large weapons, a friend commented that Ian was “the one with the big gun bahahahahaaaa.” Another woman wrote on the thread, “Ian looks good! So grateful for all he does for our country! x0x0.” The photo was posted to Facebook in 2011. You can see that picture here:
There were mental health troubles apparent in the shooter’s background that emerged on the radar of authorities last spring.
The sheriff said that there were “several contacts” with Ian Long over the years. In April, an incident occurred in which 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 thinking that Long was violent and possibly trying to hurt himself. The April incident required the crisis intervention team at the scene, the sheriff, Geoff Dean, said.
“Sounded like he was tearing down the walls of the house — like someone’s just beating on the walls with a big hammer,” the neighbor, Tom Hanson, told KTLA, adding that Long had troubles after returning from Afghanistan.
“It would start and then it would stop and then it would start and then it would stop and then it would get really loud and I hear this shouting,” he said. “And I thought ‘Man, what’s going on out here?’ … I mean it’s a quiet neighborhood.”
The sheriff described Long as irate, irrational, and said 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. “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.”
A witness told KABC-TV that the gunman entered the bar and threw a smoke grenade before opening fire. The witness told the news station he saw a security guard get shot before the witness ran away from the shooting.
Frantic parents rushed to the scene looking for information about the victims.
“If the Lord took him away, he’s in a better place,” the distraught father, Jason Coffman, told KTLA-TV, seeking information about his son, Cody, before being delivered the bad news that Cody was among the victims.
“It takes an evil, cold” person to walk in and shoot people so unemotionally, one man at the scene told KTLA, describing how his friends broke windows and helped people escape.
According to ABC News, “Law enforcement say the shooter is a white man in his late 20s who lived in the area. The weapon was a 45 caliber Glock and was legally obtained.” Ian David Long was described by the Los Angeles Times as wearing a “black shirt, black hat and black glasses.”
KTLA reports that Ian Long targeted a female working as a cashier in the establishment where many people knew each other and would come regularly to learn line dancing.
“I was at the front door and I was talking to my stepdad. I just started hearing these big pops,” John Hedge told KABC. “Pop, pop, pop. There was probably three or four, I hit the ground. I look up – the security guard is dead. Well, I don’t want to say he was dead, but he was shot. He was down. The gunman was throwing smoke grenades all over the place. I saw him point to the back of the cash register…and he just kept firing. I ran out the front door.”
Hedge’s stepfather, Tim, told the news station, “He fired the first shot. I knew it was live. 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. Then he started moving to the right. He wasn’t looking at us. Then he went into the office, where all the cash and stuff is. He didn’t say anything at all. He just started shooting.”
The shooting was first reported just before 11:30 p.m. local time at the restaurant located at 99 Rolling Oaks Drive in Thousand Oaks. The bar was hosting the weekly “College Country Night” when the gunfire broke out. The victims include Ventura County Sheriff’s Office Sergeant Ron Helus, who responded to the shooting and was labeled a hero for giving his life to save the lives of others.
2. Ian David Long Lived With His Mother & Was Described as a ‘Weird’ Loner Who Swore When Asked to Take Out the Trash
A picture is emerging of Ian Long as a baseball fan who exhibited “weird” behavior and had a mean streak since returning from Afghanistan.
Despite the disturbing April incident, his neighbor told NBC News that Long was a Dodgers baseball fan and had girlfriends over the years. However, neighbors also noticed that Long was troubled.
Richard Berge, 77, told The Los Angeles Times that Long had PTSD and sometimes kicked in the home’s walls.
“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 the mother lived in fear. “She was… kind of beside herself, she didn’t know what to do because he wouldn’t get help,” he told the Cable News Network.
“He was very aggressive. There were threats of violence, more than once,” Donald J. MacLeod, another neighbor, told The New York Daily News. “There’s no question in my mind the guy was troubled, and (Afghanistan) didn’t help him.
Long lived with his mother, according to multiple news reports. He was from Newbury Park, according to The Los Angeles Times. Deputies were seeking a search warrant to do a “thorough search of the house,” the sheriff said.
Long’s former roommate described him as “mean” and odd.
“He was kind of weird. He always locked himself in his room, he was always by himself,” Blake Winnett told The New York Post. “I didn’t really know him very well.”
Winnett told the news site that Long had gone to the bar where the shooting occurred before and used to practice dance moves alone in his garage. He told The Post that Long once snapped and swore when he was asked to take out the trash, and said, “He wasn’t violent but he was mean. He 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?’”
Another friend had a different impression though. The friend, who didn’t want their name printed told CNN, “I don’t know what the hell happened. He was always happy. I never thought this would ever come from him. We used to go snowboarding all the time. He was a good guy.” Another friend told the network, “He wasn’t unhinged, he wasn’t violent. He was a sweet guy who served his country and was using his GI Bill to go to college and get a degree to help more people. Out of our group of friends I thought the highest of him.”
Ventura County Sheriff Geoff Dean 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.”
According to Ventura County Sheriff’s Office Captain Garo Kuredjian, deputies responding to the scene heard gunfire and rushed toward the shots. The deputies came under heavy fire and one was wounded. One woman in the neighborhood told KTLA that the officers were heroes who “didn’t know what they were running into.” She said the deceased deputy took the bullet “for one of those kids.”
An official told The San Diego Union-Tribune at least 30 shots were fired during the incident at the bar.
“He shot a lot, at least 30 times. I could still hear gunshots after everyone left,” an unnamed witness told the Los Angeles Times.
A witness told KABC-TV that the gunfire was “constant” until the shooter “changed clips.” The witnesses told the news station the gun appeared to be a handgun. Other witnesses described it as a “submachine gun” or “Uzi” with an extended magazine, but it was not either of those things.
Sergeant Ron Helus was killed in the shooting. Helus, a 54-year-old father and husband, worked in the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office for 29 years and was one year away from retirement. The sheriff said the slain deputy had told his wife he loved her in a phone call shortly before leaving for the scene. You can read more about him at the link below:
3. Long’s High School Track Coach Says He Attacked Her
Dominique Colell, Ian Long’s former track coach in high school, told CBS Los Angeles that Long assaulted her.
“He attacked me. He attacked his high school track coach,” said Colell. “Who does that?” She told the television station the attack occurred over a phone. “Ian came up and started screaming at me that was his phone,” said Colell. “He just started grabbing me. He groped my stomach. He groped my butt. I pushed him off me and said after that — ‘you’re off the team.’”
She claimed other officials urged her not to report the incident so as not to wreck Long’s chances to join the military. Others who knew Long in high school told The Daily News he had sad eyes and was “socially awkward.”
A witness who said she had experience with guns because her father is in the military told reporters the shooter had an extended magazine on his gun and quickly reloaded it at least once, possibly twice. She said the gunman quickly reloaded and had “perfect form” while shooting.
Long had previously been the victim of a battery in 2015 at a bar in the area, the sheriff said. He also had some minor traffic incidents. He did not provide additional details of the battery incident.
Long was briefly married and was divorced, reported CNN.
Other witnesses said the gunman was wearing all black, possibly in a trench coat, and with a baseball hat and ski mask partially covering his face. “He just pulled out a gun and shot my friend that was working the front desk,” said Holden Harrah, 21, to The Los Angeles Times.
Despite witness accounts, authorities say it’s unclear whether Ian Long reloaded his weapon. “We don’t know if he reloaded his weapon or not,” the sheriff said. “He shot the security guard that was standing outside. He stepped inside. He turned to the right and shot several of the other security and employees there, and then began opening fire inside the nightclub.”
Parents went through enormous trauma waiting to hear if their loved ones were OK.
Police said one gun, a Glock .45-caliber handgun, was found at the scene. Horrific stories emerged. “A father of someone believed to be in attendance at Borderline Bar during mass shooting tells KTLA-TV his daughter’s Apple Watch is still pinging her location as inside the bar,” reported one local news outlet.
4. Ian Long’s Motive Is Not Yet Known & One Victim Survived the Las Vegas Mass Shooting
Police have not released any details about the gunman’s motive.
“We have no idea what the motive was at this point,” said the sheriff, adding that there is no evidence that the shooter “targeted” any employees or other people in the bar.
State, local and federal authorities are investigating the shooting. The Ventura County Sheriff’s Office, the California Highway Patrol, the FBI and the ATF were all at the scene.
A procession with Sgt. Helus’s body was arranged in his honor. “He died a hero because he went, he went in to save lives, to save other people’s lives,” said the Ventura County Sheriff in a news conference.
The Los Angeles Times reported that terrorism does not appear to be the motive. The gunman said nothing as he fired, the newspaper reported. Some friends told CNN that Long was a frequent customer at Borderline.
According to The New York Times, a group of people in the bar – who survived the attack – had also survived the mass shooting in Las Vegas, Nevada at a concert outside the Mandalay Bay.
The Route 91 country music festival mass shooting occurred in October 2017; 58 people were killed and 851 were injured during the worst mass shooting in modern U.S. history.
Reporter Kyle Jorrey reported that one of those people – Orfanos – died at Borderline. He worked there and also served in the Navy, according to his Facebook page.
5. The Shooter Previously Attended Cal State Northridge
California State University at Northridge released a statement that said Ian Long was previously a student there. He majored in athletic training but did not graduate, however, according to CNN.
“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,” the statement read.
According to CNN, Long posted on a special forces site called ShadowSpear under the handle “doorkicker03, “writing, “I am graduating with a B.S. in Athletic Training in two months. I found out a little too late that just wasn’t the job for me. Maybe the ego got the better of me but it took only one time for a 19-year-old D-2 athlete to talk down to me and tell me how to do my job that I realized this wasn’t the career I wanted to head.”
The country music-themed bar is located near the 101 Freeway off Moorpark Road. The college night begins at 9 p.m. and ends at 2 a.m. every Wednesday, according to the bar’s website. Witnesses said there were hundreds of people inside the bar. Many fled from the bar when gunfire erupted, some jumping through windows after patrons broke the glass with chairs. Others hid in bathrooms and an attic area. Bloodied survivors fled to a gas station and a nearby bar.
Several colleges are located near the bar, including California Lutheran University, Pepperdine University and Moorpark College. The popular restaurant is 18 and over on college nights, according to the bar’s website.
According to its website, the bar has been open in Thousand Oaks since 1993, after originally opening in Malibu. It describes itself as being the “Largest Country Dance Hall & Live Music Venue” in Ventura County, with 2,500 square feet of dance floor. The bar also has pool tables, games, TVs and hosts live music and dance lessons.
“I thought it was a joke when the shots started firing. I know people there. I hope everybody’s OK. I don’t know how I didn’t get shot,” John Hodge told KABC. His stepfather, Tim, said young people were enjoying the night in the bar when the “just having a great time when this maniac came in and started shooting people for no reason at all. These people have never hurt anybody in their lives and they’re just kids, they’re just kids.”
Ventura County Sheriff’s Office Captain Garo Kuredjian said it has been a long time since shots were fired in the city. He said it is a safe area and a shooting is very unusual there. In March 2018, Business Insider called Thousand Oaks the third-safest city to live in in the U.S. Thousand Oaks is about 40 miles west of Los Angeles.