An alleged former Marine armed with a handgun opened fire in a Thousand Oaks, Calif. nightclub on Wednesday, killing 12, including a sheriff’s sergeant who was among the first responders.
The Ventura County Sheriff’s Office said Sgt. Ron Helus, a 29-year veteran of the agency, was shot and killed by the suspect after responding to the shooting at Borderline Bar & Grill, which was hosting a college-night event.
Officials had not released the names of all victims early Thursday, but reports indicate those dead or injured include the bar’s staff, as well as students of nearby universities. Witnesses described the gunman shooting a security guard and a young woman working a counter just inside the door.
The suspect was later identified as Ian David Long, 28, who lived near the club. Reports indicate he may have been suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. Long was found dead in the bar, and reports indicate he may have taken his own life.
According to its website, Borderline first opened in the late 1980s in nearby Malibu, but it moved to Thousand Oaks in 1993. The venue billed itself as Ventura County’s largest country dance hall and live music venue — “where your boots meet the beach” — with a 2,500-square-foot dance floor, pool tables, games, HDTVs and a full bar and dinner menu.
A request for comment sent via Borderline’s website was not returned.
Others in the Thousand Oaks restaurant community rallied to support victims and their families, as well as responders and the local colleges, whose students frequented Borderline.
Tom Holt, president of the 17-unit Urbane Café chain, said his restaurants in Thousand Oaks were sending food to California Lutheran University nearby and to Red Cross workers on the scene and the local sheriff’s office.
“This is such a tragedy in such a great community,” said Holt.
Paul Motenko, co-CEO and co-founder of the five-unit Stacked concept, said early Thursday he was still trying to account for all of the staff members who work at the Thousand Oaks location of his chain. “We just want to make sure everyone’s safe and okay,” he said.
Sharokina Shams, spokesperson for the California Restaurant Association, said, “While there seems to be no type of gathering place that is immune from these horrific incidents, we can’t help but take it personally when it occurs at a restaurant. Our hearts go out to all the families impacted and to all the brave first responders, including to the family of Ron Helus, the brave sheriff’s deputy who lost is life.”
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