February 22, 2020

VC Sheriff Sgt., 11 Others Killed in Shooting in Thousand Oaks Dance Club; Shooter Identified as Former Marine

Update at 8:24 p.m.: Rabbi Chaim Bryski told the Journal he had been with the families and community at Los Robles Regional Medical Center since 6:15 a.m.

“I woke up at 6:15 a.m. and went over to the teen center where 1,500 people were and people from Chabad,” Bryski said. “We were all still in shock. So devastating. There was nothing to say. I was there all day in case someone needed a rabbi or someone to cope with.”

Bryski was shocked that something like this could happen in Thousand Oaks because “it’s one of the safest cities in the country.”

“We need to bring light where there is darkness… I was silliest, I had nothing to say, I could only be there for them and listen.”

Bryski thanked the first responders and the 60 police officers who guarded the area, shaking their hands and even praying with them.

The Chabad rabbi was moved by all the love and support that came rushing in. He mentioned that people who experienced other shootings came to speak and support those in Thousand Oaks.

“During times where there’s so much senseless evil, there’s so many good things happening too,” Bryski said.

THOUSAND OAKS, CA – NOVEMBER 08: Rabbi Chaim Bryski, of Chabad of Thousand Oaks, hugs Oxnard Police Officer Mike Wood after a morning prayer before the procession for Ventura County Sheriff Sgt. Ron Helus outside Los Robles Hospital & Medical Center in Thousand Oaks on Thursday morning, November 8, 2018. Helus died at the hospital after entering the scene of a mass shooting during college night at a Thousand Oaks nightclub. Authorities believe Ian David Long, a 28-year-old veteran, is the shooter and among the 13 dead. (Photo by Sarah Reingewirtz/Digital First Media/Pasadena Star-News via Getty Images)

-Erin Ben-Moche contributed to this story.

Update at 5:14 p.m.: One more victim has been identified

Dan Manrique, a Marine Corp Veteran and Pacific Region GM for Team RWB (Red, White and Blue)

Update at 4:27 p.m.: Two more victims have been identified

Kristina Morisette, a graduate of Simi Valley High School, was working at the front door of Borderline

Telemachus Orfanos went to Moorpark College and lives in Thousand Oaks.

Update at 2:36 p.m.: Two more victims have been identified:

Blake Dingman, 21, of Newbury Park

Jake Dunham, 21, of Newbury Park

Update at 2:16 p.m.: City of Thousand Oaks says overflow parking for tonight’s vigil at the Civic Arts Plaza will be at the Lakes. Doors will open at 5.

Update at 1:33 p.m. Two more victims have been identified:

Noel Sparks, 21, a student at Moorpark College.

Sean Adler, who owned Rivalry Roasters Coffee in Simi Valley and a former wrestling coach at Royal High School in Simi Valley.

Update at 12:44 p.m.: Organizers of the blood drive at La Reina High School are overwhelmed by the number of people wanting to give and are asking donors who aren’t in line yet to return tomorrow or locate another donation site on the Vitalant website. There is another blood drive at the Thousand Oaks Inn Best Western 75 West, Thousand Oaks.

Update at 11:56 a.m.: Two more victims have been identified.:

Justin Meek, 23, a Cal Lutheran grad who was a bouncer at Borderline.

Alaina Housley, 18, a freshman at Pepperdine University.

Update at 10:34 a.m.: One of the victims has been identified as Cody Coffman, 22 of Camarillo by his father, Jason Coffman. He was preparing to join the military.

A mass shooting during College Night at Borderline Bar & Grill, a Country Western dance bar in Thousand Oaks, left 12 dead, including a Ventura County Sheriff Sergeant. The gunman, identified as Ian David Long, 28, a former Marine, was also killed. Authorities estimate there were hundreds of people inside at the time of the shooting, most of them under the age of 25.

Students from Cal State Channel Islands, Pepperdine University, Moorpark College, Cal Lutheran University and other schools in the area would regularly come Wednesday nights for Borderline’s College Night. The website advertised dance lessons would be given at 9:30 and 10:30 p.m.. The popular venue has been around for more than 20 years.

The shooting reportedly started at 11:20 p.m. when eyewitnesses told authorities that the shooter, who had been wearing all black, threw a smoke grenade into the bar before opening fire first on a security guard/bouncer at the door. Blood could be seen on the steps to the front entrance.

Ventura County Sheriff Geoff Dean identified the gunman as Long, a Marine veteran from nearby Newbury Park. The suspect was armed with a Glock 21 .45-caliber handgun, with an extended magazine, that he had purchased legally, Dean said. In April, Dean said his department was called to Long’s home for a “disturbance” where deputies found him acting irate, but he was not deemed mentally unfit. There is no motive at the time. Long’s body was reportedly found inside an office near the main entrance and it appeared that he died of what authorities say was likely a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Several people at the bar used stools and chairs to break windows and help others to safety. Reports indicated that several others had holed up in the bathroom and rafter of the large dance club, which its web site says measures more than 2,500 feet. Family and friends could be seen by news helicopters gathered in the parking lot of the nearby Janss Mall and at a gas station outside the perimeter to await news.

Dean reported at a press conference early Thursday morning that VC Sheriff’s Sgt. Ron Helus, who was shot after he entered the building, died at a hospital around 2 a.m. Thursday. Helus, 54, and a passing highway patrolman were responding to several 911 calls when they arrived at the bar a little after 11:20 p.m., the sheriff said. They heard gunfire and went inside.

A procession will take place at 10 a.m. on Thursday for Helus, whose body will be transported via motorcade from Los Robles Regional Hospital in Thousand Oaks.

Several people who were interviewed, either after escaping the bar or while waiting for loved ones, said that as country music fans, many were also at the Route 91 Harvest Festival in Las Vegas in October 2017, where a gunman killed 58 people outside the Mandalay Bay.

Security at local synagogues was ramped up Thursday morning and there are helicopters that can be seen and heard all over the area.

Rabbi Chaim Bryski of Chabad of Thousand Oaks spoke to KTLA 5:  “When you have 12 lights extinguished – we have to become their hands and feet. We need to pick up the phone, and call someone — perhaps you don’t like — bring more goodness; bring more kindness. Bring more dance and joy. At such time of heart ache, there is nothing to say. Just be there. What can I do to make the world a better place, a more loving place?”

He also encouraged those who have tefillin to put them on today, and attend the Thursday night vigil at the Civic Center.

An email from Rabbi Bary Diamond at Temple Adat Elohim in Thousand Oaks included a reminder:

Let the emotions, born of our pain, lead us away from hatred 
Passions are a flame. If placed well, they can warm us and urge us to act; if allowed to roam free, our passions can destroy our surroundings and ourselves. The senseless hatred that led to the destruction of the Second Temple was also born out of passions. Let our passions urge us to act, but let that first act be one of compassion and understanding, and, only if necessary, of confrontation and combat. Let our passions burn, but let them burn wisely.
The email ended by encouraging congregants to attend the Thursday night vigil and a healing Shabbat service on Friday evening at the temple.

President Trump tweeted Thursday morning that he has been “fully briefed on the terrible shooting.” He praised law enforcement, saying “great bravery shown by police” and “God bless all of the victims and families of the victims.”

Rep. Julia Brownley (D) who represents the of the 26th District, on Twitter:

I am deeply, deeply saddened by the horrific news of a mass shooting at Borderline Bar in Thousand Oaks. To the families of the 11 victims and Sgt. Ron Helus – I cannot even begin to fathom the pain you are experiencing, but please know that our community is here for you.

L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti shared on Twitter:

Our hearts break for @CityofTO and @VENTURASHERIFF for last night’s tragedy. @LAFD sent 5 engineer companies and a battalion chief to help at the request of our neighbors and we stand ready to help in any way you need. Wrapping our arms of love around you. EG

Governor Jerry Brown sent out this message on Twitter:

Our hearts ache today for the victims of this heinous act and our deepest condolences are with the Thousand Oaks community and those who lost friends and loved ones. We are grateful for law enforcement and others, including Ventura County Sheriff’s Sgt. Ron Helus, who took heroic actions to save lives last night.

According to the Ventura County Fire Department PIO, a Family Unification Center has been set up at 1375 E. Janss Rd in Thousand Oaks. For information please call the Hotline 1(805)465-6650.

Los Robles Hospital is looking for blood donors, especially those with O negative blood, for patients in critical condition. A blood drive is being held at La Reina High School, 106 W. Janss Road, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Appointments can be made by calling 877-25-VITAL or on the Vitalant website. By noon on Thursday, the line was out the parking lot and down the sidewalk on Janss Road.

A community vigil will be held at the Fred Kavli Theater at 6 p.m. Thursday at the Thousand Oaks Civic Center at the intersection of Thousand Oaks Boulevard and Dallas Drive.

Donations can be made through the Ventura County Community Foundation.

We will update the story as we get more information.