What We Know So Far About What Happened During Shooting In Thousand Oaks, Calif.

14 hours ago
Originally published on November 8, 2018 7:41 pm
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AILSA CHANG, HOST:

We begin this hour with a story with an all-too-familiar script.

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

Late last night, this time at a bar in Southern California, a man opened fire. In the end, 13 people, including the gunman, were dead. One of the victims was a sergeant with the sheriff's department who was shot as he exchanged gunfire with the shooter.

CHANG: This afternoon, anxious family members are being notified - people like Jason Coffman, whose son Cody was killed.

JASON COFFMAN: I talked to him last night before he headed out the door. The first thing I said was, please don't drink and drive. Last thing I said was, son, I love you. That was the last thing I said.

CHANG: Cody Coffman was 22 years old. We're joined now by NPR's Leila Fadel, who's in south Thousand Oaks, Calif. Hey, Leila.

LEILA FADEL, BYLINE: Hi.

CHANG: Hi. Can you tell us what we know so far about what happened at the Borderline Bar & Grill last night?

FADEL: Well, the Ventura County Sheriff Geoff Dean has identified the shooter as a 28-year-old Marine Corps veteran named Ian David Long who lives in a neighborhood that's not too far from here. And around 11:20 last night, he walked up to this bar, shot the security guard outside, entered and started shooting.

And within three minutes, Sergeant Ron Helus responded to the shooting. He walked into the bar right away, and he was shot multiple times. And he later died of his wounds. And his colleagues, this county, his family are all mourning him now. The sheriff described the scene inside that bar as horrific and said Helus responding so quickly surely did save lives. Officers later found the shooter in an office near the entrance of that bar with an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.

CHANG: Is there any understanding whatsoever why this happened?

FADEL: Well, we're expecting some more information soon but at this point, no - no motive, no understanding if this was targeted or just a random act of violence at a crowded bar. The sheriff said this morning that they're trying to get a search warrant for the shooter's home in Newbury Park. Deputies have responded to the shooter's home in the spring, and they found him irate, a little irrational. But after mental health specialists evaluated him, they decided he wasn't a harm to himself or to others.

So now, if they had decided he was a danger, under California's 5150 law, he could have been held for mental health reasons. And beyond that, if the deputies deemed him a danger, California also has a red flag law, so they could have temporarily removed firearms with a court order.

CHANG: What can you tell us so far about the victims?

FADEL: You know, as you can imagine, it's a tragic day. And I'm not too far from where that shooting happened. And as I was walking around, I noticed red spots on the ground, and it was dried blood from wounded people running away. This was college night at the bar, so a lot of these people were really young, between 18 and 25. People broke windows to get out of the bar when the gunman was reloading. And later this morning and into the afternoon, families are or have been notified that their loved ones are gone - people like Jason Coffman, who we heard from earlier.

CHANG: And you've had a chance in the past several hours to talk to people. I mean, how is the community responding right now?

FADEL: Well, they want to help. They've already - the blood drive at the local high school is extremely crowded. A victims' fund has been set up. And they just want to help.

CHANG: That's NPR's Leila Fadel in Thousand Oaks, Calif. Thanks so much. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.