Thirteen people are dead and others are injured after a horrific event that unfolded at the Borderline Bar & Grill in California this week. Witnesses say a man dressed in black and wearing a hood entered the establishment halfway through the evening and opened fire, killing 12 at the scene and eventually taking his own life.
• The killer, who has been identified as 28-year-old Ian David Long, is a former machine gunner for the U.S. Marines. Long served in the war in Afghanistan and was released with an honorable discharge some time ago after winning several medals and commendations.
• Police reports state that Long was well-armed when he entered the bar, although his motive isn’t known. The former military member carried at least one smoke bomb and a .45-caliber Glock 21 equipped with an extended magazine – an addition considered illegal in California.
• As Long opened fire on the patrons, panic broke out. Customers scrambled over one another to hide behind tables and threw chairs through the windows in an attempt to escape. The entire event unfolded in just minutes, culminating with Long taking his own life.
• Making the shooting even more tragic is the fact that the bar happened to be hosting a college night for local students on the same evening. Many of the people killed were young college students – some enjoying local night life for what may have been their first year away from home.
• Local authorities haven’t been able to conclusively identify a motive, nor do they believe Long targeted the bar’s employees. “We haven’t found any correlation,” one local Sheriff explained. “Maybe there was a motive for this particular night, but we have no information leading to that at all.”
• Long allegedly experienced an “emotional setback” early last spring, which authorities believe may have been early warning signs for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. At the time, officers were called to his home and brought him to a local hospital for irrational behavior – but he was never admitted.
• Sheriff’s Sgt. Ron Helus, who was one of the first initial responders to 911 calls from the venue, was struck by bullets from Long’s gun. Another first responder, a local highwayman, was able to pull Helus to safety, but they were forced to stop attempting entry until backup arrived.
• Sadly, Helus died early the next morning in hospital as a result of his injuries. But many are calling him a hero; they believe his early intervention with the subject may have limited just how many people were killed. We do know that the subject went into the bar’s office and shot himself shortly after engaging with and shooting Helus.
• Ventura County Sheriff Geoff Dean said, “There’s no doubt that they saved lives by going in there and engaging with the suspect. He went in there to save people and paid the ultimate price.” Dean and Helus were close friends.
• “Ron was a hardworking, dedicated sheriff’s sergeant who was totally committed,” Dean continued. “…As I told his wife, he died a hero because he went in to save lives.”