Police identify former Marine as gunman who killed 12 in California bar shooting

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A gunman, who has now been identified as 28-year-old veteran Ian David Long, killed 12 people, including a police officer, when he opened fire in a country music bar in California. (Screenshot: Social Media)
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Police officers interview people outside a country music bar and dance hall in Thousand Oaks, in the Los Angeles area where the shooting happened. (USA Today/AFP)
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People comfort each other as they sit near the scene of the shooting in Thousand Oaks. (AP)
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First responders are seen outside Borderline Bar and Grill in Thousand Oaks, California in this still image taken from a social media video. (Reuters)
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Jacqui Irwin, a member of the California State Assembly, and Ventura County Sheriff Sgt. Eric Buschow comfort each other during a news conference after a mass shooting at a bar in Thousand Oaks. (Reuters)
Updated 09 November 2018
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Police identify former Marine as gunman who killed 12 in California bar shooting

  • It was the second mass shooting in America in less than two weeks
  • ‘We have no idea if there is a terrorism link to this or not’

THOUSAND OAKS, California: A gunman, who has now been identified as 28-year-old veteran Ian David Long, killed 12 people, including a police officer, when he opened fire in a country music bar packed with college students in California, officials and witnesses said Thursday.

Police said the gunman was found dead inside the bar on the outskirts of Los Angeles although it was not immediately clear if he was killed by officers or shot himself.

A gunman, who has now been identified as 28-year-old veteran Ian David Long, killed 12 people, including a police officer, when he opened fire in a country music bar in California. (Screenshot: Social Media)

Speaking at press conference in the wee hours of Thursday, a sheriff said that around a dozen other people had been injured. He said the motive of the shooting and the identity of the shooter were not known.

It was the second mass shooting in America in less than two weeks.

Witnesses said that the gunman, who was wearing a black trenchcoat, throw several smoke grenades inside the Borderline Bar and Grill before he started he shooting at around 11:20pm on Wednesday night.

“It’s a horrific scene in there. There is blood everywhere,” Ventura County Sheriff Geoff Dean told reporters.

“We have no idea if there is a terrorism link to this or not. As you know, these are ongoing investigations and that information will come out as soon as we are able to determine exactly who the suspect was and what motive he might have had for this horrific event.”

“Nothing has led me to believe or the FBI there is a terrorism link here. We certainly will look at that option.”

Dean said that the dead police officer, who was named as Ron Helus and had been on the force for 29 years, was among the first on the scene.

The dead police officer, who was named as Ron Helus and had been on the force for 29 years. (Supplied)

“They found 11 victims that had been killed,” said Dean of the first response unit before detailing that the death of Helus brought the toll to 12, not including the gunman.

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Here is a recap of some of the other most deadly shootings in the country in the past 10 years.

- On October 1, 2017 a heavily armed "lone wolf" gunman opens fire from a 32-floor hotel room on an open-air concert on the Las Vegas Strip. He kills 58 people before turning the gun on himself. Around 500 are wounded.

- A 29-year-old gunman opens fire inside a nightclub in the Florida city of Orlando on June 12, 2016 and kills 49 people. The shooter, who pledged allegiance to Daesh in a 911 call during the attack, is killed in a shootout when police storm the building.

- A 20-year-old man kills his mother in Newtown, Connecticut, in December 2012 before blasting his way into Sandy Hook Elementary School and shooting dead 20 six and seven-year-old children and six adults. He commits suicide.

- A gunman opens fire with an assault rifle during a Sunday morning church service in the rural Texan community of Sutherland Springs on November 5, 2017, killing 26 people and wounding 20. The gunman, aged 26, is found dead in his vehicle.

- A former student opens fire at a high school in Parkland, Florida, on February 14, 2018, killing 15 people on the premises with two dying in hospital. A 19-year-old who had been expelled for disciplinary reasons is arrested.

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The venue in the quiet, upscale Thousand Oaks suburb had been hosting an event for college students, with possibly several hundred young people in attendance, Captain Garo Kuredjian of the Ventura County Sheriff’s office said earlier.

Matt Wennerstron, a 20-year-old college student and regular at the bar, said the shooter fired a short-barreled pistol that apparently had a 10-15 round magazine.

“It was just semi-automatic, as many shots as he could pull, and then when it started to reload that’s when we got people out of there and I didn’t look back.”

He said he and others smashed their way out of the bar onto a balcony and then jumped down to safety. “One bar stool and straight through a window,” he told reporters.

TV footage showed SWAT teams surrounding the bar, with distraught revelers milling around and using their cell phones as lights from police cars flashed.

Holden Harrah, a young man who saw the incident, cried as he told CNN that a place where he goes every week to have fun with friends had been a scene of carnage.

“A gentleman walked in the front door and shot the girl that was behind the counter. I don’t know if she is alive,” he said.

The Los Angeles Times quoted a law enforcement official as saying at least 30 shots had been fired.

An unnamed witness told the newspaper that someone ran into the bar around 11:30 p.m. and started shooting what looked to be a black pistol.

“He shot a lot, at least 30 times. I could still hear gunshots after everyone left,” the Times quoted the man as saying.

It was the latest chapter in America’s epidemic of gun violence.

Only 10 days ago a gunman killed 11 worshipers at a synagogue in Pittsburgh.

That shooting was politically sensitive: the suspect, Robert Bowers, who said he wanted to kill Jews, argued that a Jewish advocacy group had been aiding a Central American migrant caravan denounced repeatedly by President Donald Trump in the run-up to Tuesday’s midterm election.

Last year a country music festival called Route 91 in Las Vegas was the scene of the worst mass shooting in modern US history. A gunman shooting from the 32NG floor of a hotel and casino with high power weapons killed 58 people.

Carl Edgar, a 24-year-old regular at the Thousand Oaks club, said he was in the bar with about 20 friends and had not been able to reach some of them since the shooting. They may have turned their phones off, he said.

“A lot of my friends survived Route 91,” he told the Times. “If they survived that, they will survive this.”


US border chief quits amid outcry over child detainees

Updated 25 June 2019
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US border chief quits amid outcry over child detainees

  • John Sanders’ departure coincides with the revelation of unsanitary detention conditions for children at an overcrowded Border Patrol facility in Clint, Texas
  • Arrivals of undocumented migrants at the southern US border have surged in recent months, with 144,000 people taken into custody in May alone

WASHINGTON: The acting commissioner of the US Customs and Border Protection agency announced his resignation on Tuesday amid a public outcry over alarming detention conditions of migrant children in Texas.
John Sanders, appointed to the post just two months ago, said in a letter obtained by several US media outlets that he planned to step down as acting CBP chief on July 5.
Sanders’ departure coincides with the revelation of unsanitary detention conditions for children at an overcrowded Border Patrol facility in Clint, Texas, a sign of the increasing strain on resources due to soaring numbers of arrests at the US-Mexico border.
The conditions at the center in Clint were described by a team of lawyers, doctors and others who visited the facility about 20 miles (30 kilometers) southeast of El Paso.
Nearly 250 children were transferred out of Clint on Monday but a CBP official said Tuesday that some 100 were being sent back there.
“The three-year old before me had matted hair, a hacking cough, muddy pants, and eyes that fluttered closed with fatigue,” wrote Clara Long, a researcher with Human Rights Watch who accompanied the team.
“His only caretaker for the last three weeks in a United States Border Patrol chain-link cage and then a cell... his 11-year old brother,” Long said.
“Children at Clint told us they don’t have regular access to showers or clean clothes, with some saying they hadn’t been allowed to bathe over periods of weeks and don’t have regular access to soap,” she said.
Speaking on CNN on Tuesday, Long said “the situation is dire.”
“And it’s not just Clint,” she said.
Sanders has led CBP since April, when President Donald Trump tapped CBP chief Kevin McAleenan to replace Kirstjen Nielsen as secretary of the Department of Homeland Security.
In a message to staff, Sanders did not give a specific reason for quitting and officials told The Washington Post and The New York Times it was not clear if his resignation was directly related to the handling of underage migrants at the border.
Trump told reporters Tuesday he did not ask Sanders to step down but “knew there were going to be changes there.”
US law requires unaccompanied minors to be returned to their parents or transferred to Health and Human Services facilities within 72 hours.
But many of the children held by the Border Patrol in Clint had been there for three or four weeks, according to the team which visited the facility on June 17.
“The Border Patrol claims that high numbers of border arrivals are causing these delays as they wait for space to open up in the somewhat more child-friendly detention centers and shelters,” said HRW’s Long.
Arrivals of undocumented migrants at the southern US border have surged in recent months, with 144,000 people taken into custody in May alone. CBP deputy commissioner Robert Perez said more than 100,000 were children and families.
“Everybody understands it is not the Border Patrol’s job to take care of children,” said Warren Binford, a Willamette University law professor who visited the Clint facility.
“They are as upset as we are that these children are being put into their care because they don’t have the ability to care for them,” Binford said on MSNBC.
“These children need to be with their families.”
Perez, the CBP deputy commissioner, made the same complaint recently at a panel discussion in Washington.
“We are a border security agency now being called upon to deal with things we’re not designed for,” Perez said.
Trump, asked about conditions at the detention centers, said he was “very concerned” and urged Democrats to approve $4.5 billion in emergency humanitarian funding for the southwest border.
He said “bad people” were using children to take advantage of lax US immigration laws. “It’s a form of slavery what they’re doing to young children,” he said.
Trump also said Mexico “for the first time in 50 years is helping us” prevent border-crossing.
“So I just want to thank Mexico,” said the US leader, who had threatened steep tariffs on Mexican goods unless the government did more to slow migration.
After a week of tense negotiations, Mexico agreed to reinforce its southern border with 6,000 National Guardsmen and expand its policy of taking back migrants while the US processes their asylum claims. Mexico has also deployed 15,000 troops to the US border.
“They’ve done a great job,” said Trump. “Hopefully they can keep it up.”