The grand opening of Sean Adlers Simi Valley coffeehouse, Rivalry Roasters, had taken place less than three weeks earlier. Tucked into a strip mall, the small shop was a dream of Adlers, one he worked tirelessly to pursue after a heart attack kept him from a future as a sheriffs deputy.
But on Thursday, bouquets of flowers lined the outside doors of the coffee shop, as patrons and friends came to say goodbye. The night before, Adler, 48, was one of the 12 people killed by a gunman in the mass shooting at Borderline Bar & Grill in Thousand Oaks, where he worked as a bouncer and security guard.
Hed kept that job – and another bouncer job at nearby Azars Sports Bar – to support his two family while the coffee shop got off the ground. On the day of the shops opening, his two sons, ages 17 and 12, were by his side, making coffee and running the register.
Often, he would leave the shop and head straight to one of his other jobs to work the night shift. His sister, Valerie Adler, told NBC News that on Wednesday night, as a gunman opened fire on the crowded bar, Adler attempted to disarm him. To those who knew him best, that bravery came as no surprise.
“Its absolutely the kind of thing he would do,” said Danny Evans, a childhood friend. “He just loved people.
He gave his all, to whatever it was he did, added Mike Nolan, a friend whom Adler met through the Simi Valley Chamber of Commerce. He worked his butt off. He did everything he could to make this shop a reality.
For years, he bounced around between careers, serving, at various times, as a salesman, a strength and conditioning coach for Royal High School, and a youth soccer coach. Hed hoped to eventually become a police officer and was training with the Los Angeles County Sheriffs Department when a 2017 heart attack changed his plans.
That year, Adler also lost his father. But amid the tumult, friends remember Adler as unrelentingly positive with an infectious sort of charisma.
He was always smiling, said David Weinstein, whod been friends with Adler since they were children. Even when things were crashing around him, he still managed to stay upbeat.
With Rivalry Roasters, Adler had found his niche. In the hours before a candlelight vigil was held on Thursday night, patrons and friends stopped by the coffee shop to pay their respects.
Some left notes to say goodbye. To our favorite coffee guy, you will be missed dearly, one read.
Sean Adler’s sister said that before he was shot dead inside of the Borderline Bar & Grill, he attempted to take down the shooter. Speaking to NBC Los Angeles’ Mekahlo Medina, Valerie Adler said, “Sean tried to disarm [the gunman]. That is typical of Sean. He was a protector, always sticking up for people.” Valerie added that her brother is survived by his wife and two sons. The man who shot and killed 12 people inside of the Thousand Oaks, California, bar has been named as Ian David Long, 29. Long was a former U.S. Marine. He too was found dead at the scene. Authorities believe that Long committed suicide.
Buzzfeed reports that Adler had recently opened a coffee roasting video. His sister told Buzzfeed her brother was a “positive, motivational, and truly wanted to best for the people around him.” Adler’s new business venture was covered by the Simi Valley Acorn in October 2018. Adler told the local news outlet that in 2017, at the age of 47, he was training to become a sheriff’s deputy when he suffered a heart attack. Adler said, “It was like all the wind was knocked out of me and I just collapsed; it really sucked.” At that point, becoming a sheriff’s deputy was no longer an option. Adler’s father convinced his son to go into business for himself. Adler then spoke about the struggles involved in a new business, saying, “When youre passionate about what you do, it doesnt feel like work; thats what Rivalry Roasters is for me. Its not always easy to make ends meet, and I even work security at bars at night to help cover expenses, but I love what Im doing.”
Adler opened Rivalry Roasters in 2018. A blurb about the business reads in part, “Rivalry Roasters has taken up arms against mediocre drinks, offering a menu of craft coffee, tea, and chai that’s truly second to none. All our products are fair trade and organically grown, meaning they’re not only delicious — they’re sustainably and ethically made, as well.” His sister told NBC Los Angeles’ Jonathan Gonzalez that her brother had been working at Borderline Bar & Grill for extra money. A friend said on Twitter that Adler had been working at the front desk of the bar.
A Twitter post from the Simi High School Wrestling team said that in Adler, “You couldn’t have met a nicer guy.” The team’s coach had previously coached Adler for a different team.
On his LinkedIn page, Adler had worked in the coffee industry in sales since July 2014. Between 2012 and 2016, Adler operated Empower Personal Fitness & Self Defense in Simi Valley. Among his classes was a class on anti-bullying for kids. Adler studied personal training and fitness at the National Academy of Sports Medicine. Adler was a practioner of Brazilian jiu-jitsu. On his Pinterest page, Adler went by the moniker ExtremeBJJ77.