‘Tonight, We Are a Hurting City’: Hundreds Gather at Vigil Following Thousand Oaks Mass Shooting
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Hundreds of people came together at a Thousand Oaks theatre Thursday evening in honor of the victims killed in a mass shooting at a local Borderline Bar & Grill the night before.
At 6 p.m., mourners gathered on a lawn outside the packed Fred Kavil Theatre for the Performing Arts, an 1,800-seat venue that’s part of the Civic Arts Plaza next to City Hall. Some were softly singing while others held hands in silence.
Cliff Housego, a longtime disc jockey at the bar and has taught line dancing there for 25 years, arrived at the vigil in a cowboy hat and denim jacket emblazoned with the logo of the Borderline Bar & Grill.
He didn’t work Wednesday night, when the shooting happened, and was awakened Thursday by his son banging on his door with the horrific news.
He said he loves seeing “the beautiful young people smiling from ear to ear” as they dance at the bar and felt compelled to attend the vigil to be part of the community.
At the event, the crowd stood and applauded as Ventura County Sheriff Geoff Dean took the stage.
“There’s nothing really that I can say here that will fill the hole that’s in our hearts,” the sheriff said.
Dean spoke about Ventura County Sgt. Ron Helus, who was killed when he responded to the shooting.
“When I told [his wife] that we had lost her hero, ‘I said to her, because of Ron, many lives were saved,'” Dean said.
Thousand Oaks Mayor Andy Fox also spoke in addition to leaders of different faiths.
“Tonight, we are a hurting city,” Fox said. “But we are a community of love, of compassion and of unity. We’re also a community of hope.”
California Lutheran University and Pepperdine University, which both had students at the bar, also had services on Thursday to commemorate the victims.
The events were held as victims were being identified in the mass shooting at Borderline Bar & Grill, where gunman Ian David Long, 28, walked in a opened fire late Wednesday, according to Ventura County authorities. Long is among the dead and is believed to have shot himself.
Long killed Helus, who went in after being called to scene, authorities said. Helus is being honored as a hero. Other victims identified were in their early 20s or younger.
Wednesdays are “College Country Nights” at Borderline, which offers dance lessons as its dance hall.
The Ventura County Community Foundation, a local nonprofit, has worked with the city to gather donations for a Conejo Valley victims fund. Details are on the foundation’s website, where the organization wrote: “Take care of each other.”