Thousand Oaks shooting kills 12, reignites gun violence conversation

By Zemi Franicevic

At 11:19 p.m., on Wednesday Nov. 7, a 911 call was made saying that there was an active shooter at the Borderline Bar and Grill in Thousand Oaks, California. The authorities entered the building three minutes later at 11:25 pm, but by the time the gun went silent, 12 people, including Sheriff’s Sgt. Ron Helus, had been shot and either died on the seen or later in a hospital. The shooter was identified as Ian Long, a 28-year-old Afghanistan veteran.

It was mostly students at the bar that night as it was a “country college night.” The students and other bar patrons were dancing to the country music, playing pool and watching the Lakers game when a man wearing a black trench coat approached the entrance of the bar and shot the security guard. The people still dancing in the bar thought they were hearing fireworks from outside or sound effects in the music but were terrified to see that those sounds were coming from a gunman as he entered the bar firing a Glock .45-caliber handgun. Once Long shot someone at the cash register, people ran for their lives and hid under bar stools and pool tables. Some immediately sought cover behind each other and others threw bar stools against windows to break them and escape.

Photo by Rachel Owen

One woman, named Sarah Rose Deson, who was at the bar that night told her story about how she managed to survive. She said that once the shooter came into the bar, her friend Cody Gifford-Coffman immediately yelled at her to get down, “I fell to the floor and hid behind him and just tucked myself in his back,” Deson exclaimed. They hid for a while and then Cody told her that it was time for them to get out. She got out through the front entrance– where the shooter had originally bursted in just moments before. She said that she doesn’t even remember racing out of the bar, just that she ran for her life. She ran to a nearby gas station and realized that her friend Cody was not with her, she later discovered that he had been killed inside the bar. She continues to give thanks to Cody as she credits him for saving her life, “I didn’t know what to do. I just followed him, I dropped down and I hid with him. I know he was put in my life for a reason. He’ll always be my hero, and now he’s my angel.”

The Ventura County Medical Examiner recently released the cause and manner of the 12 people who lost their lives. Ten people died from multiple gunshot wounds, while two were killed from single gunshot wounds, and so far we know that Justin Meek, who was only 23 years old, was killed from a gunshot to the thorax and Cody Gifford-Coffman, just 22, was shot in the head.

Thousand Oaks California, once described as one of the safest towns in the nation, has now fallen victim to yet another mass shooting due to poor gun-control. Susan Orfanos, the mother to Telemachus Orfanos– who had survived the Las Vegas shooting last October, said “My son was in Las Vegas.. And he came home, he didn’t come home last night and I don’t want prayers, I don’t want thoughts, I want GUN CONTROL and I hope to God no one else sends me any more prayers.”

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