One of the “safest cities” in the country. That’s how the mayor of Thousand Oaks, California, described the city in an interview with CNN after a gunman opened fire in Borderline Bar and Grill late Nov. 7, killing 12 people, and then himself.
It was college night at the bar, and several of the attendees were college students. Of the 12 killed, at least one was a college student: Alaina Housley of Pepperdine University in Malibu, California. A majority of those killed were in their early-to-mid 20s.
Telemachus Orfanos, 27, was a Navy veteran who survived last year’s Route 91 Harvest music festival mass shooting in Las Vegas, Nevada, was one of the Thousand Oaks shooting victims, according to his mother. His mother tearfully told reporters, “I don’t want prayers. I don’t want thoughts. I want gun control.”
News of the shooting hit home for many Chapman students, many of whom live or grew up in the Los Angeles or Ventura county area.
“We shouldn’t have to live like this,” said Arielle Sunshine, a junior public relations and advertising major.
Sunshine is from Agoura Hills, a town over from Thousand Oaks. Her mother called her in tears the morning of the shooting, she said.
“So many of my friends went to Borderline regularly, and I know many who barely got out last night,” Sunshine said.
“Senseless” gun laws perpetuate a consistent cycle of mass shootings in the U.S., she said.
The gunman, who authorities identified as Ian David Long, was a U.S. Marine Corps veteran. Despite a history of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and “angry outbursts,” Long legally purchased the gun he used to carry out the massacre, authorities said to the Washington Post.
Emma Ballen, a junior business administration major, has lived in Thousand Oaks since she was six years old. She was devastated to hear about the attack in her hometown.
“I felt really sad and heartbroken,” said Ballen. “Thousand Oaks is known for being a safe, tight-knit community.”
Ballen was also “overwhelmed” after hearing about the fire that is burning through parts of Ventura and Los Angeles Counties, including Thousand Oaks.
The Woolsey Fire, which spans from Malibu, neighboring canyon communities and the San Fernando Valley neighborhood of West Hills, spread to 83,275 acres and is 10 percent contained as of Nov. 11 according to Cal Fire. It has destroyed nearly 200 structures, killed three people and injured three others. In addition to the nearby Hill Fire, the Woolsey Fire prompted the evacuation orders for more than 250,000 people, according to CBS News. News of the fire came less than 24 hours after the shooting at Borderline.
“We’ve had a lot of tragedy in our community. We don’t want any more,” Ventura County Supervisor Linda Parks told the Los Angeles Times. “We do not want any more lives lost, so please listen when they tell you to evacuate.”
Rachel Kelly, who grew up near Thousand Oaks in Hidden Hills, said her family was forced to evacuate their home early Nov. 9. It felt like the “world (was) falling apart” since her family was still recovering from the news of the shooting when they learned they had to evacuate.
“So much is happening. First the shooting in Pittsburgh, then at Borderline, and now this fire,” said Kelly, a sophomore theatre performance major. “It’s painful to watch.”