Witnesses describe fatal shooting at California country music bar
Students from Pepperdine University in Malibu were among those inside the Borderline Bar and Grill in Thousand Oaks, Calif., when a gunman entered the bar and began shooting, the university said in a statement.
At least 13 people were killed, including a sheriff’s deputy and the suspect, police said. Thousand Oaks is a mid-size city about 40 miles west of Los Angeles.
One victim was identified by his father as 22-year-old Cody Coffman, who had been planning to join the military, ABC 6 reported.
“I am speechless and heartbroken,” his father said, according to the station. “My life has changed forever.”
Another victim was Alaina Housley, the niece of Tamera Mowry-Housley, an actress and daytime Emmy winner for the talk show “The Real,” and Adam Housley, a former Fox News correspondent, USA Today reported.
“Our hearts are broken. We just learned that our niece Alaina was one of the victims of last night’s shooting at Borderline bar in Thousand Oaks,” Mowry-Housley and her husband said in a statement, according to the paper. “Alaina was an incredible young woman with so much life ahead of her and we are devastated that her life was cut short in this manner. We thank everyone for your prayers and ask for privacy at this time.”
Earlier in the day, Mowry-Housley had replied to a tweet from a student who said she was Alaina’s suitemate asking her to message her with any information.
Adam Housley asked for prayers for his niece and called her a “beautiful soul.”
Sheriff Geoff Dean identified the shooter as 28-year-old Ian David Long at a news conference Thursday morning.
“The University has determined that multiple Pepperdine students were on site at Borderline Bar and Grill in Thousand Oaks. At this time, the University is working to identify and provide support to those students,” Pepperdine said on Twitter. “Pepperdine officials are working with authorities and will provide updates as more information is available. The University offers its deepest condolences and is praying for everyone involved in tonight’s tragic events.”
Pepperdine is a small, selective college with about 7,700 active students, according to the school. Pepperdine said 16 students were at the venue, of which two were treated and released from the hospital and one was unaccounted for.
Classes were still scheduled to be held during the day, with counseling services available and a prayer service scheduled for noon, according to the school.
“It’s thrown everyone off. Pepperdine is a pretty small community, a pretty sheltered community living in the quiet community of Malibu ...” the paper’s news editor, Madeleine Carr, said in an on-air interview with CNN. “It’s one of those events where its hard to rationalize it happening to you ... it’s crazy to think the place you’re going to have fun, the place you’re going to de-stress after your week is now the place of ... tragic memories.”
The university is about about a half-hour drive from the bar, which was hosting a “College Country Night” for students, CNN reported. The bar hosts the event every Wednesday until 2 a.m., according to a flier. It was 11 p.m. in California at the time of the shooting, police said, according to The New York Times.
The bar is close to three other colleges, including California Lutheran University, which is in Thousand Oaks; Moorpark College, about a 15 minute drive north; and California State University - Channel Islands, about 15 miles west.
Some Cal Lutheran students drove to the scene to offer rides and see what they could do to help, according to the Associated Press.
Police said the suspect in the shooting was Ian David Long, a 28-year-old Marine veteran who used a .45 caliber Glock handgun. Sheriff Dean said he had “no idea” what the motive may be.
Long used a .45 caliber Glock handgun, which was purchased legally, Dean said. Long used an extended magazine for the weapon, Dean said. It’s unclear whether the magazine was legally purchased.
Witnesses said a hooded gunman entered the building in dark clothing and shot the doorperson before shooting into the crowd of dancers shortly after 11 p.m., The Associated Press reported. Police said they believed the weapon used in the attack was a handgun, according to the LA Times.
A sheriff’s deputy, Sgt. Ron Helus, arrived at the scene with a California Highway Patrol officer and was shot multiple times, according to the AP. He died at the hospital.
“He went in there to try to save people,” Sheriff Dean said in a news conference. Dean said the slain deputy was on the phone with his wife before telling her he had to go respond to a scene. “We lost a hero,” Dean said.
Dean said in the news conference that some people who tried to escape the chaos by breaking windows might have been injured. It was not immediately known how many people were injured because they went to different hospitals, Dean said.
“I was actually about to leave when you start hearing pop, pop, pop. It sounded like fireworks or something,” said witness John Hedge, according to NBC News. “My stepdad dove and took cover and yelled at me, ‘John, hit the deck! Hide!’ So I get down. And the gunman started opening fire on the cashiers, the people working the cash register on the front desk.”
President Donald Trump was briefed on the shooting and praised law enforcement officers for their response.
“I’m a Thousand Oaks resident,” 19-year-old Erika Sigman said, according to the LA Times. “This is a safe place. My parents let me go here. This is a trusted place ... to know that this happened in my safe place is a very, very scary thing. You just don’t expect it to happen in Thousand Oaks.”
The Sheriff’s Office set up a hotline for those who may be affected by the shooting, at 805-465-6650.