The man who opened fire on a California bar on Thursday morning, killing 12 people, was identified by law enforcement authorities as a Marine Corps veteran.
The shooter, Ian David Long, 28, had been in contact with police in the past for a minor traffic collision, for being the victim of a battery at a bar in April 2015, and for acting “irrationally” at his home earlier this year, said Ventura County Sheriff Geoff Dean.
Authorities who responded to the scene earlier this year said that “mental health specialists who met with him talked to him and cleared him,” and that they didn’t feel he was qualified for involuntary psychiatric commitment.
Dean said the authorities on that scene earlier this year “felt he might be suffering from PTSD” due to his time in the armed forces.
Tim Tanner, 41, a neighbor who lives just a few houses down from the shooter’s home, said he heard loud banging and noises back in April, when police were called to the home.
Tanner, who said he never really spoke to the gunman, said he knew the man lived with his mother and would sometimes see him walking alone around the neighborhood.
In April, Tanner said he heard several loud noises at night and walked outside to see where they were coming from. A few minutes later, he saw severest police cars at the home.
“I heard some loud banging noises,” he said. “They had an argument or something.”
A handful of patrol cars showed up that night, he said, and he didn’t look into it further by then.
The United States Marine Corps confirmed to BuzzFeed News that Ian D. Long was enlisted for nearly 5 years, from August 2008 to March 2013. He was an infantry machine gunner and attained the rank of Corporal in 2011.
The Marines said he was deployed to Afghanistan as part of Operation Enduring Freedom from Nov. 16, 2010 to Jun. 14, 2011.
Long was a member of a special forces internet forum where he wrote about his experience in the military sporadically.
In one post, he said he had been deployed to Marjah in Afghanistan, where in 2010 thousands of US, British and Afghan troops launched the largest joint offensive in the war. The town in Helmand Province was a Taliban stronghold and site of Operation Moshtarak from February to December 2010, the first attack launched after the Obama administration announced plans to send 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan. Long’s deployment to Afghanistan overlapped for the last month of that operation.
Long wrote on the forum last year that he was interested in pursuing further military service as an Army ranger and was just waiting for a spot to open up for him. In the same post, dated Mar. 28, 2017, Long told members of the forum that he realized he didn’t want to be a Marine “a little too late.”
“Maybe the ego got the better of me, but it took only one time for a 19 year-old D-2 athlete to talk down to me and tell me how to do my job that I realized this wasn’t the career I wanted to head.”
Long wrote that he was deployed to Okinawa in 2011, right after his Afghanistan tour ended, where he served as a Jungle Warfare Training Center instructor. He added that he was currently pursuing a Bachelor of Science degree in Athletic Training and planned to graduate in two months.
“On behalf of California State University, Northridge, our hearts and thoughts are with the victims, survivors, first responders and loved ones affected by the horrific massacre that occurred in Thousand Oaks last night. We have learned that the reported shooter is a former CSUN student, who last attended in 2016,” California State University, Northridge said in a statement.
Long was found dead inside an office in the Borderline Bar & Grill after the shooting, Dean said.
“We have no idea what the motive was at this point,” Dean said.
Witnesses said Long may have also used smoke bombs, though the police have not yet confirmed that.
“Obviously, he had something going on in his head that would cause him to do something like this,” said Dean. “So he obviously had some sort of issues.”
Long purchased the weapon used in the attack legally.
The security guard who was shot was not armed, and neither was anyone in the bar that police are aware of.
Dean said “anywhere from 150 to 200” people were inside the bar, and many lives were saved by the swift police response.
“There’s no doubt that they saved lives by going in there and engaging with the suspect,” Dean said. “Not that by any means the loss of 13 lives is good, but it could have been much, much worse.”
The police officer killed in the shooting was Sgt. Ron Helus, 54, who had been with the sheriff’s office for 29 years. He was married with a grown son and “was within a couple years of retiring.”
Helus “made the ultimate sacrifice,” Dean said.
“[The community has] lost a hero,” said Dean. “It’s lost a great human being.”
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