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

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.”


Kim Jong Un invites Trump to Pyongyang

Updated 16 September 2019

Kim Jong Un invites Trump to Pyongyang

  • Invitation extended in an undisclosed personal letter sent to Trump on Aug. 15

SEOUL: North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has invited US President Donald Trump to Pyongyang in his latest letter to the American head of state,  South Korea’s top diplomat said on Monday.

“I heard detailed explanations from US officials that there was such a letter a while ago,” Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-hwa told a  parliamentary session. “But I’m not in a position to confirm what’s in the letter or when it was delivered.”

The foreign minister’s remarks followed reports by a local newspaper, JoongAng Ilbo, which said that Kim’s invitation was extended in an undisclosed personal letter sent to Trump on Aug. 15.

If true, the invitation was made as diplomats of the two governments were in a tug-of-war over the resumption of working-level talks for the North’s denuclearization efforts.

During a surprise meeting at the Korean border village of Panmunjom on June 30, Trump and Kim pledged that working-level nuclear disarmament talks would resume within a month, but no such talks have been held,  with both sides indulging in a blame game instead.

“We are very curious about the background of the American top  diplomat’s thoughtless remarks and we will watch what calculations he has,” North Korea’s first vice Foreign Minister Choe Son-hui said on Aug. 30 in a statement carried by the North’s official Central News Agency (KCNA). He was referring to US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s comments terming Pyongyang’s rocket launches as “rogue.”

However, the tone has changed significantly with the communist state recently offering to return to dialogue with Washington “at a time and place agreed late in September.”

“I want to believe that the US side would come out with an alternative based on a calculation method that serves both sides’ interests and is acceptable to us,” Choe said on Aug. 30.

On Monday, the director-general of the North Korean Foreign Ministry’s department of American affairs said working-level denuclearization talks will likely take place “in a few weeks” but demanded security guarantees and sanctions’ relief as prerequisites.

“The discussion of denuclearization may be possible when threats and hurdles endangering our system security and obstructing our  development are clearly removed beyond all doubt,” the statement said. 

HIGHLIGHT

It’s not clear whether the US president has responded to the invitation, thought he has touted his personal relationship with the young North Korean dictator.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in was upbeat about the early resumption of nuclear talks.

“North Korea-US working-level dialogue will resume soon,” he said, citing an “unchanged commitment” to trust and peace by the leaders of both Koreas and the US. 

The working-level meeting will serve as a “force to advance the peace process on the Korean Peninsula,” he added.

Moon is scheduled to meet Trump on the sidelines of a UN General Assembly session in New York next week.

“It will be an opportunity to share opinions and gather wisdom with Trump on the direction of further development of South Korea-US  relations,” he said.

The White House offered no immediate comment.

It’s not clear whether Trump responded to Kim’s invitation to Pyongyang, but the US commander-in-chief has touted his personal relationship with the young North Korean dictator, who oversaw the test-firings of short-range ballistic missiles and multiple launch rockets more than half a dozen times since late July.

While none of the projectiles are a direct threat to the US continent they still pose threats to US and its allied forces in South Korea and Japan.

“Kim Jong-un has been, you know, pretty straight with me, I think,” Trump told reporters on August 24 before flying off to meet with world leaders at the G7 in France. “And we’re going to see what’s going on. We’re going to see what’s happening. He likes testing missiles.”

Experts say the apparent firing of US National Security Adviser John Bolton has also boosted chances of fresh negotiations with the North, which had long criticized him for his hawkish approach toward the regime.

“The displacement of a ‘bad guy’ could be construed as a negotiating tactic to seek a breakthrough in the stalemate of nuclear talks. It’s a show of a will to engage the counterpart in a friendlier manner from the perspective of negotiation science,” Park Sang-ki, an adjunct professor at the department of business management at Sejong University in Seoul, told Arab News.