California gunman who killed 12 was volatile but passed mental assessment

FBI agents collect evidence at the home of suspected country music bar shooter Ian David Long in Thousand Oaks, northwest of Los Angeles. (AFP)
Updated 09 November 2018
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California gunman who killed 12 was volatile but passed mental assessment

  • A neighbor described Ian David Long as an introvert and said he was ‘dumbfounded’ by the massacre
  • The Marine Corps said Long earned several awards, including a Combat Action Ribbon and a Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal

THOUSAND OAKS, California: Neighbors of Ian David Long described the man who shot and killed 12 people at a country music bar as distant in public but combative with his mother inside the suburban Los Angeles home the two shared.
One ruckus in April was so extreme that they called law enforcement. Authorities brought in a mental health specialist who concluded that Long could not be involuntarily committed for psychiatric observation but worried the 28-year-old Marine veteran might have post-traumatic stress disorder.
“The mental health experts out there cleared him that day,” Ventura County Sheriff Geoff Dean said Thursday, the morning after Long opened fire inside a bar that was hosting a night for local college students.
Julie Hanson, who lives next door to Long’s ranch-style home, described him as “odd” and “disrespectful” well before he left home a decade ago, got married and enlisted in the Marines, becoming a machine gunner.
She could often hear him yelling and cursing, but several months ago unusually loud banging and shouting prompted her husband to call authorities.
“I was concerned because I knew he had been in the military,” Tom Hanson said Thursday, as federal and local law enforcement officers searched Long’s house, where an American flag flew over the garage.
Hanson described Long as an introvert and said he was “dumbfounded” by the massacre.
Other than the call in April, Long’s only other contact with authorities came after a traffic collision and after he alleged he was the victim of a violent encounter in 2015 at another bar in Thousand Oaks, the sheriff said.
Long joined the Marines at 18 and was married as a 19-year-old in Honolulu in June 2009, according to military and court records.
His military service lasted nearly five years, and he was honorably discharged with the rank of corporal in 2013, the Pentagon said. He was part of the infantry, responsible for hauling and shooting machine guns.
During his service, Long’s marriage fell apart. He and his wife separated in June 2011, while he was deployed on a seven-month tour in Afghanistan. The couple cited irreconcilable differences in divorce papers filed in May 2013, two months after Long left the Marines.
Later, he enrolled at nearby California State University, Northridge, last attending in 2016, the school said in a statement.
More recently he was living in a home where neighbors said they could hear frequent, aggressive shouting between Long and his mother, especially over the last year.
About 18 months ago, Don and Effie MacLeod heard “an awful argument” and what he believes was a gunshot from the Longs’ property. Don MacLeod said he did not call police but avoided speaking with Ian Long.
“I told my wife, ‘Just be polite to him. If he talks, just acknowledge him, don’t go into conversation with him,’” Don MacLeod said Thursday.
Sparse pictures on social media showed a happy family. Long’s mother, Colleen, posted Facebook photos of her son in his military uniform in 2010 and 2011.
“My Son is home, well sort of, back in Hawaii, soon to be in Cali come January, hooray!” she wrote on Dec. 14, 2012.
Another photo from 2014 shows Ian Long with his arm draped around his mother in front of Dodger Stadium. The two were wearing Dodgers T-shirts and smiles.
Authorities haven’t identified what motivated Long to open fire during college night at Borderline Bar and Grill in Thousand Oaks, around 40 miles (64 kilometers) from downtown Los Angeles. The dead included 11 people inside the bar and a veteran sheriff’s sergeant who was the first officer through the door.
The Marine Corps said Long earned several awards, including a Combat Action Ribbon and a Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal. He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, Third Marine Division in Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii.


Sri Lanka’s president orders execution of 4 drug convicts

Updated 26 June 2019
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Sri Lanka’s president orders execution of 4 drug convicts

  • The executions if carried out will end a 43-year moratorium on capital punishment
  • President Maithripala Sirisena says narcotic drugs have become a serious menace across the country with 300,000 addicts

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka: Sri Lanka’s president said on Wednesday that he has ordered the executions of four drug offenders who will be hanged in prison soon, amid alarm over drug-related crimes in this Indian Ocean island nation.
The executions if carried out will end a 43-year moratorium on capital punishment.
President Maithripala Sirisena told a media discussion on Wednesday that he has signed the death warrants including the days of the executions and sent them to prison authorities.
He said narcotic drugs have become a serious menace across the country with 300,000 addicts. According to Sirisena, 60 percent of 24,000 inmates have been jailed for drug-related offenses. Sri Lanka prisons are built to accommodate 11,000 people.
Sri Lanka last executed a prisoner in 1976. Currently, 1,299 prisoners are on death row, including 48 convicted of drug offenses.
Prison authorities are now in the process of recruiting two hangmen after two others quit without executing anyone.
At present, 26 people have been shortlisted for a two-day training, said Bandula Jayasinghe, an official at the Justice and Prison Reforms Ministry.
Drug trafficking is a capital offense in Sri Lanka, which authorities believe is used by peddlers as a transit hub.
Rights groups and foreign governments including the EU have previously criticized Sirisena’s suggestions to revive the death penalty, saying there is no perfect criminal justice system and the risk of executing an innocent person can never be eliminated.
Sirisena, who visited the Philippines in January, praised President Rodrigo Duterte’s crackdown on illegal drugs as “an example to the world.” Thousands of suspects, mostly urban poor, have been slain since Duterte took office in 2016. Rights groups have denounced what they say are extrajudicial killings. Police say most of the suspects were killed in encounters with officers.
Sri Lanka is predominantly Buddhist, a religion that advocates non-violence. Sirisena has previously said the country has had positive influences from all religions but tough law enforcement is necessary to curb crime and maintain order.
In April, police publicly destroyed 770 kilograms (1,695 pounds) of drugs seized in 2016 and 2017. Police have seized 731 kilograms (1,608 pounds) of heroin, 1 kilogram (2.2 pounds) of cocaine and 1,607 kilograms (3,535 pounds) of marijuana so far this year.
Marijuana is the most widely used illegal drug in Sri Lanka, followed by heroin and cocaine. Drug-related arrests rose 2 percent in 2017 from the previous year to 81,156.