Teacher Says Calif. Gunman Assaulted Her in High School

Neighbors say Ian Long was noisy but introverted
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 9, 2018 6:28 AM CST
Updated Nov 9, 2018 6:52 AM CST
Teacher Says Calif. Gunman Assaulted Her in High School
Ventura County Sheriff's deputies stand outside the house of shooting suspect David Ian Long in Newbury Park, Calif., on Thursday, Nov. 8, 2018.   (AP Photo/Richard Vogel)

(Newser) – The motive behind Wednesday night's mass shooting at a country music bar in California is still a mystery, but a picture is emerging of a gunman who was deeply troubled even before he served as a Marine in Afghanistan. Dominique Colell, a track coach at Newbury Park High School in Thousand Oaks, tells CBS Los Angeles that Ian David Long attacked her during his senior year. She says the assault happened after someone gave her a phone they had found during practice. "Ian came up and started screaming at me that was his phone," Colell says. "He just started grabbing me. He groped my stomach. He groped my butt. I pushed him off me and said after that—'you're off the team,'" she says.

Colell says she wishes she had reported the incident. Instead, the school persuaded her to accept an apology so she wouldn't ruin his future in the Marines. She believes the 28-year-old's problems were deeper than post-traumatic stress disorder. "There are hundreds of thousands of people with PTSD,” she says. "They don’t go around shooting people. This kid was mentally disturbed in high school. There were signs and the administration knew it." Authorities say Long opened fire at the Borderline Bar and Grill in Thousand Oaks, killing 12 people. Long, who used a Glock handgun, was found dead inside the venue. More:

  • Introverted but loud. Neighbors tell the Ventura County Star that Long, who lived with his mother, was introverted and apparently unemployed. They say he could be heard having loud arguments with his mother and sometimes a third person at all times of the day of night. "No question in my mind that the guy was troubled," neighbor Donald McLeod says, adding that the arguments worsened after Long returned from Afghanistan in 2013.
  • "Everybody knew." Other neighbors tell the Star that "everybody" knew Long, who served as a machine gunner, had PTSD. They say mother Colleen Long was worried because her son refused to seek help. Police were called to the home after an incident in April this year, but authorities say mental health experts cleared Long.
  • "I love you. I'll talk to you later." The Ventura County Sheriff's Department is mourning Sgt. Ron Helus, a 29-year veteran of the force who was killed after being one of the the first to respond 911 calls about the shooting. Associates describe him as a great cop and a great father to 24-year-old son Jordan, and say they are not surprised he rushed inside to confront the gunman. "He was a lifetime learner, a trainer, a mentor, a leader. He was a cop’s cop," says Sheriff’s Capt. Garo Kuredjian, per the Los Angeles Times. Helus was on the phone with his wife when the call about the Borderline shooting came in. "I gotta go handle a call. I love you. I’ll talk to you later," he said.

  • More background. The AP reports that a Long enlisted in the Marines at 18 and got married in Hawaii when he was 19. The marriage, however, fell apart when he was deployed in Afghanistan. They filed for divorce in 2013, two months after his five years in the military ended. During his time as a Marine, Long was awarded a Combat Action Ribbon and a Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal.
  • "Guys struggle." Sam Tanner, who served with Long in Afghanistan, says he's not surprised that somebody he knows became a mass shooter. "Guys struggle," he tells the New York Times. "We've lost more Marines in our peer group to suicide than we ever lost in Afghanistan." His roommate in the military, however, says Long was a "really good guy" who gave him a Bible he still carries. "We were trained as machine gunners, so you know you are capable of doing something like this," Dewayne Pettiford says. "But that he did it makes no sense. It is against all our values.”
  • The victims. CNN has the stories of some of the 12 people killed in the shooting, including Justin Meek, a California Lutheran University graduate who had been planning to join the Coast Guard. The university says the 23-year-old, who worked at the Borderline, "heroically saved lives in the incident."
(Another victim survived the massacre at a Las Vegas country festival last year.)

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