Dueling Images: A Smiling Young Marine and a Killer Dressed in Black

Dueling Images: A Smiling Young Marine and a Killer Dressed in Black

California bar shooting suspects despicable actions condemned by Marine Corps top officer

California bar shooting: Authorities believe Ian David Long, a former Marine, opened fire on a packed California country music bar Wednesday night, killing 12 people, including a veteran sheriffs sergeant nearing retirement. Here is what you need to know about the deadly shooting and what officials have released about the gunman.

The Marine Corps’s top officer offered a strong condemnation Thursday of Ian David Long, the "ex-Marine" and suspect in Wednesday night’s shooting at a country music bar in California.

Gen. Robert B. Neller, the commandant of the Marine Corps, took to Twitter to express sympathy for those affected by the violence that left 12 people dead.

“Heartfelt condolences to those suffering from the tragic & senseless act of violence #ThousandOaks,” Neller tweeted. “That ex-Marine's despicable actions run counter to what the vast majority of veterans are rightfully known for: serving w/ honor then making positive contributions to society.”

Gen. Neller notably referred to Long as an “ex-Marine,” not a former Marine. The latter argot is a custom afforded to Marines who have served their nation honorably.

Authorities believe that Long killed himself after opening fire at the Borderline Bar & Grill in Thousand Oaks, California, Wednesday night, officials said. Long’s body was found in an office near the entrance of the bar.

The suspect served in the Marine Corps from August 2008 to March 2013 as a machine gunner and earned the rank of corporal in August 2011, according to military records. He was also deployed to Afghanistan from November 2010 to June 2011.

Long, who served in Helmand Province in southern Afghanistan, received an honorable discharge, Marine Corps officials told Fox News.

The suspect may have possibly experienced post-traumatic stress disorder, Sheriff Geoff Dean said.

NEWBURY PARK, Calif. — In photos that Ian D. Longs mother proudly posted to Facebook, her son is a young Marine: smiling, crew-cut, in a crisp uniform. When he opened fire in a crowded bar late on Wednesday, killing 12 people, his face was covered and he was dressed in black. He was armed with smoke grenades and a high-capacity magazine for his pistol, and was full of an inexplicable rage.

What changed Mr. Long has this Southern California community scrambling for answers. The authorities said they suspected that he might have had post traumatic stress after a deployment in Afghanistan but was ultimately determined to have posed no threat. Neighbors said he was a solitary figure who lived with his mother, and often clashed with her.

As news of the mass shooting at the Borderline Bar & Grill in Thousand Oaks, Calif., spread to his former battalion, shocked veterans wondered if the troubles that led their fellow Marine to kill innocent civilians in a crowded bar had resided in him before the military, or if he had brought them home from war.

Im not surprised someone I knew ended up doing a mass shooting. We had another guy recently committed suicide by cops in Texas, said Sam Tanner, who served with Mr. Long and described him as a friend. Guys struggle. Weve lost more Marines in our peer group to suicide than we ever lost in Afghanistan.

Another friend said he could not match the Marine he knew, who had been given a good conduct award, with the man who barged into the bar.

He was a really good guy. He gave me the Bible I still carry today, said Dewayne Pettiford, who was his roommate in the military. We were trained as machine gunners, so you know you are capable of doing something like this. But that he did it makes no sense. It is against all our values.

Mr. Long, 28, lived with his mother on a quiet street of palm trees and tidy ranch houses. Neighbors said that when Mr. Long moved in after leaving the military, they regularly heard yelling in the Long house, and sometimes at night, gunfire.

Tom Hanson, 70, who has lived in the home next to the Longs for decades, called 911 about a year ago, concerned about the yelling.

I didnt know if he was going to kill himself or what he would do, so I called the sheriff to investigate, he said.

Another neighbor, Donald Macleod, who lived behind the Longs, said Thursday morning that agents in F.B.I. jackets were searching the house, where he once heard gunfire at night, and Mr. Long arguing with his mother.

According to Sheriff Geoff Dean, Mr. Long was also the victim in a January 2015 fight at a different bar in Thousand Oaks.

The sheriffs office said that after a disturbance at the house in April, mental health specialists had talked to Mr. Long, discussing his service in the Marine Corps and whether he had PTSD. They determined that he was not an immediate danger to himself or others and that he could not be involuntarily taken to a mental hospital.

Mr. Long joined the Marine Corps after high school in August 2008, just as the Marines were preparing for a bloody campaign in Afghanistan to take the Helmand Province from the Taliban, according to Marine Corps records. He trained as a machine-gunner, and was assigned the 1st Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment in Hawaii. Marines who served with him described him as a health-food and fitness fanatic who liked to lift weights to loud music.

The battalion deployed in 2010 to Helmand, but Mr. Long was held back because the battalion had limited space and he was seen as a low-performing Marine, said Mr. Tanner, who was also held back.

A short time later, Mr. Long deployed instead with Golf Company, 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment. In Afghanistan, the 1,000-Marine battalion saw little action compared with others during a troop surge from 2010 to 2012, Marines said.

It was fairly quiet, said Jeremy Soliz, who was part of the deployment. We were warriors, but we acted more like policemen. We built roads, built canals, tried to help people.

The only casualty in the battalion died by suicide after being hazed by other Marines. Even so, Marines said, firefights and hidden bombs were a constant threat. Mr. Pettiford, who was Mr. Longs roommate, said troops saw the Afghan police officers and army troops they were training blown to pieces by improvised explosives. On Mr. Longs birthday in 2011, Mr. Pettiford said, his outpost was hit by rockets.

Every time you walked outside the wire, you wondered if you were going to get your legs blown off, he said.

Records show Mr. Long earned the Combat Action Ribbon, given to Marines who have engaged the enemy. Nothing in his record indicates that he was wounded, or punished for misconduct. He was honorably discharged in 2013.

After the Marines, Mr. Long appeared to readjust, Mr. Pettiford said. He studied athletic training at California State University, Northridge, and feverishly followed the Los Angeles Dodgers. He always seemed in high spirits when Mr. Pettiford checked in.

Blake Winnett, 35, a set builder who lived with Mr. Long in two different houses, said that Mr. Long spent a lot of time studying and on the computer in his room while he was attending CSUN. He also had a carefree side.

He was a raver, essentially, and liked to go to underground dance events, Mr. Winnett said. The sweatier the better.

But there were also signs of trouble. Mr. Long was hospitalized from a motorcycle crash about three years ago, Mr. Pettiford said.

A combat deployment creates such a high level of stimulus and afterward you struggle to fill it, Mr. Pettiford said. Thats why guys wreck their motorcycles. They are searching for that intensity they lost.

Mr. Long also dropped out of college, according to the university. In a post on an online forum, first reported by CNN, he said about sports medicine: I found out a little too late that just wasnt the job for me. 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 wasnt the career I wanted to head.

He rarely spoke to me, but that didnt bother me, he added. People have their own lives, were different ages, different concerns.

Mr. Hanson said he had countless friends who were Vietnam veterans with whom he used to get together for casual basketball or football games. He motioned to the street in front of his home, now cordoned off with red crime-scene tape.

Wed spend time together, get air, blow off some steam, Mr. Hanson said of his veteran friends. Its not like that now. T his guy just kept to himself, probably tried to deal with whatever he had on his own.

Jennifer Medina reported from Newbury Park, Calif., Dave Philipps from Colorado Springs, and Serge F. Kovaleski from New York. Contributing reporting were Thomas Fuller from Thousand Oaks, Calif., and Matthew Haag from New York. Kitty Bennett contributed research.

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