“College Country Night” ends in tragedy

Updated: Nov 14, 2018

A shooting too close to home takes the lives of college kids.

By Savannah Simmons, Opinion Editor

Twelve people were killed at a bar in the Ventura County area during a “College Country Night” held for students after a former Marine opened fire late last night.

Borderline Bar and Grill in Thousand Oaks is regularly the spot for country dancing and college students, but Wednesday night, students from schools such as Cal State Channel Islands, Pepperdine, Cal Lutheran, and Moorpark College gathered for a “College Country Night” that ended in horror.

“He didn’t say anything at all, he just started shooting,” said a father, interviewed by ABC7 News, who was out for the night with his son. “They’re all young, this shouldn’t happen to them.”

The gunman is identified by Ian David Long, a 28-year-old Marine Corps veteran who has had run-ins with the law before. Long entered the bar around 11:20 p.m., threw a smoke bomb and began shooting into the crowd.

Sheriff’s Sgt. Ron Helus and a California Highway Patrol officer were the first law enforcement officers on the scene. Helus, a member of the force for 29 years with plans to retire next year, died at a nearby hospital after getting shot several times. The other 11 victims have not yet been identified.

“He gave his all,” said Ventura County Sheriff Geoff Dean about Helus. “Tonight, as I told his wife, he died a hero. He went in to save lives, to save other people.”

The shooter was found dead at the scene, Sheriff Geoff Dean believes the gunshot had been inflicted by Long himself. Officials also found a legally purchased Glock 21 .45-caliber handgun and that the gunman used an extended magazine during the shooting, said Dean in a press conference.

There is no clear motive as to why the shooter went on this killing spree or why he chose the college event at Borderline.

People broke windows with chairs to escape while others hid under pool tables waiting until there was a break in gunfire to run out of the building. Others were found by law enforcement hiding in bathrooms and in the attic.

A Mission College student shared that a family friend who attended Cal Fullerton was at the bar and got injured. The student received a call at 7 a.m. from the family, immediately turned on the television and saw their friend being rolled away on a stretcher behind the ABC7 reporter. The victim has been taken to the hospital and is being treated along with the 20 other injured victims.

“It is crazy, it can happen to anyone and any place,” said the Mission student who wishes to remain anonymous. “It doesn’t hit you until it happens to you.”

Families used cell phones to search for loved ones who may have been at the scene. While some were fortunate to get into contact with their loved ones, others are left in the dark as some victims have yet to be identified. Among those searching, Tamara Mowry-Housley, talk show host of The Real, and Adam Housley, former Fox News Channel correspondent, worry for their niece who attends Pepperdine and was at the event.

“We haven’t found her yet. It’s been 7 hrs since the shooting,” tweeted Mowry-Housley. Her niece has since been confirmed as one of the victims who was killed.

This shooting happens just a little over a month after the one-year anniversary of the Route 91 Harvest Festival shooting that killed 58 people in Las Vegas, and some of the “College Night” goers were also survivors of the Las Vegas shooting.

Chandler Gunn, of Newbury Park, told The Los Angeles Times about his friend who was at Route 91 and worked at Borderline. He said she had gotten out safe after she saw smoke and heard gunshots.

“A lot of people in the Route 91 situation go here,” said Gunn. “There’s people that live a whole lifetime without seeing this and then there’s people that have seen it twice.”

Thousand Oaks is currently ranked third on niche.com in the 2018 Safest Cities in America and was just victim to the 307th mass shooting in America.

“I’ve been a cop for 41 years,” said Sheriff Dean. “But I’ve learned it doesn’t matter what community you’re in, it doesn’t matter how safe your community is, it can happen anywhere.”

CNN video of the shooting and report:

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