A Pepperdine University student was identified Thursday as one of 13 people who died in an overnight shooting at a Thousand Oaks nightclub crowded with patrons, including 16 students from the Malibu college and three off-duty Los Angeles Police Department officers.
Alaina Housley, a niece of former Fox News correspondent Adam Housley and his wife, actress Tamera Mowry-Housley, was from Napa and was a freshman at Pepperdine.
“Our hearts are broken,” Housley and his wife said in a joint statement. “We just learned that our niece Alaina was one of the victims of last night’s shooting at Borderline bar in Thousand Oaks. 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.”
Ventura County Sheriff Geoff Dean said 13 people died in the shooting at the Borderline bar, including a sheriff’s sergeant and the gunman, identified as 28-year-old former Marine and Cal State Northridge student Ian David Long. Long, who lived with his mother in Newbury Park, is believed to have committed suicide as law enforcement descended on the club.
The three LAPD officers who were at the club were not injured. Law enforcement authorities have not officially identified any of the other victims, although a Camarillo man identified one of them as his son, 22-year-old Cody Coffman, while Cal Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks identified another as recent graduate Justin Meek, 23.
Pepperdine officials said earlier Thursday they had confirmed that 16 of the university’s students were at the Borderline Bar and Grill when the shooting erupted. Two of those students were treated and released at a hospital while the others except for one — later identified as Housley — had been accounted for, according to the university.
Adam Housley told reporters early Thursday that his niece’s Apple Watch and iPhone were still pinpointing her location as the Borderline dance floor.
Classes were continuing at Pepperdine, but university officials said students “who need to adjust their class schedules today as a result of yesterday’s event are encouraged to do so.” Counselors were available on the campus, and a midday prayer service was held at the university’s Smothers Theatre.
Dean said the gunman went to the club around 11:20 p.m. Wednesday, shot a security guard outside, then walked into the building and shot more employees before opening fire on the crowd. It was a country-music-themed college night at the bar, meaning it was open to people aged 18 and over.
Dean said Long was armed with a Glock .45-caliber handgun that had an “extended magazine” allowing it to hold more than the standard number of 10 bullets. He purchased the gun legally, Dean said, although the magazine extension would make it illegal in the state.
Among the first responders to the shooting scene was Ventura County Sheriff’s Sgt. Ron Helus, who burst into the club with a California Highway Patrol officer. Dean said there was an exchange of gunfire with the suspect, and Helus was struck. The CHP officer managed to pull Helus from the building, and the sergeant was taken to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
The 54-year-old Helus, a 29-year-veteran of the department, was a married father of a grown son. He had just called his wife and told her he loved her before he responded to the Borderline bar, Dean said.
When additional law enforcement arrived and entered the building, they found the gunman in an office near the club’s entrance, dead of an apparently self-inflicted gunshot, Dean said. There was no immediate word on a motive for the shooting.
Dean said sheriff’s officials had limited contact with Long over the years, including once over a traffic collision. He said deputies went to his home in April due to a disturbance and spoke with Long, but he was not arrested and was not considered a danger or a candidate to be taken into custody for a mental-health evaluation.
Some neighbors told reporters that Long suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder.
Long, who was a Marine from August 2008 to March 2013 and served seven months in Afghanistan as a machine-gunner, lived with his mother in Newbury Park. According to the Department of Defense, he earned various commendations and honors, including a good conduct medal. He attended CSUN from 2013-16, studying athletic training, according to the university. He did not graduate.
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti wrote on Twitter that three off-duty LAPD officers were at the bar “but are thankfully uninjured.”
“They assisted in evacuation & treatment on-scene,” Garcetti wrote. “City flags will be at half-mast today in honor of victims, including @VENTURASHERIFF Sgt. Ron Helus who died a hero.”
About 10 a.m., a solemn procession of numerous law enforcement and first responder vehicles escorted Helus’ body from the Los Robles Regional Medical Center in Thousand Oaks to the Ventura County Medical Examiner’s Office in Ventura.
A vigil was planned for 6 p.m. at the Thousand Oaks Civic Center, said Thousand Oaks Mayor Andrew Fox, who announced a website for people to send donations to assist the victims: www.VCCF.org.
Dean said Helus was “a hard-working, dedicated sheriff’s sergeant. He died a hero because he went in to save other people.”
More than a dozen other people were injured in the shooting, authorities said, many of them suffering cuts or scrapes as they ducked for cover or crawled through windows to get out of the building. Witnesses told stories of people inside the bar using chairs to break windows and help others escape the shooting.
Crews from the Los Angeles city and county fire departments provided support to Ventura County firefighters at the scene. County fire crews that responded were later cleared and released.
Los Angeles Fire Department Chief Ralph Terrazas, in a Tweet, wrote: “Your @LAFD sends condolences to @VENTURASHERIFF & family & friends who lost loved ones in last night’s tragedy. We stand ready to assist in any way necessary.”
The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, also in a Tweet, said: “The #LASD stands with all of #ThousandOaks in full support and mourning for all those affected by this senseless shooting. We grieve alongside the @VENTURASHERIFF who lost a brave public servant in Sergeant Ron Helus. He gave his life to save others.”
The Orange County Sheriff’s Department posted on Twitter: “Our thoughts & prayers go out to all who have suffered a loss as a result of the incident in Thousand Oaks. Sergeant Helus was killed in the line of duty running into the #Borderline Bar to stop the shooter. Our condolences to @VENTURASHERIFF as they mourn the loss of a hero.”
Also tweeting about the massacre were the Los Angeles Rams, which has a training facility and its corporate headquarters in Thousand Oaks.
“The Los Angeles Rams organization is heartbroken by the horrific shooting that took place last night in our community of Thousand Oaks. Our thoughts are prayers are with the victims, their families and our entire community.”
The Chargers also tweeted, “We are deeply saddened by the terrible news coming out of Thousand Oaks this morning. Our hearts are with the victims and their loved ones during this horrific tragedy, and we honor the brave and heroic actions of first responders who rushed to the scene to help.”
Also tweeting about the violence was the Rev. Joseph Gomez, the Roman Catholic archbishop of Los Angeles, whose archdiocese includes Ventura County.
“Like many of you, I woke this morning to news of the horrible violence last night at the Borderline Grill in Thousand Oaks,” Gomez wrote. “Let us pray hard for all the families, for those who were murdered and those who were injured, and in a special way for the heroic officer, Sgt. Ron Helus, who lost his life defending people in the attack. May God grant perpetual light to those who have died, and may he bring comfort to their loved ones and peace to our community.”
Ventura County officials established a Family Assistance Center at 1375 E. Janss Road in Thousand Oaks and released an emergency hotline number that people can call: (805) 465-6650. The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office sent a team of victim-services personnel trained in mass-casualty incidents to Ventura County to provide assistance as needed.
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