Back in April, officers in Thousand Oaks, California, responded to a disturbance at the home where Ian David Long lived.
Long, a 28-year-old who served in Afghanistan with the Marines, was acting somewhat irate and a little irrationally, according to Ventura County Sheriff Geoff Dean.
A mental health specialist with the crisis team met with him and felt he might be suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. But after speaking with him, they decided not to detain him under laws that allow for the temporary detention of people with psychiatric issues.
Seven months later, officers swarmed his home again for a very different reason: a mass shooting.
Long was identified by police on Thursday as the gunman who killed 12 people and injured more than a dozen more in a sudden burst of violence at the Borderline Bar & Grill in Thousand Oaks. Authorities have no motive yet.
Authorities have identified a Facebook post believed to have been made by the shooter around the time of the attack, according to a law enforcement official familiar with the ongoing investigation.
In it, the writer says: “I hope people call me insane… (laughing emojis).. wouldn’t that just be a big ball of irony? Yeah.. I’m insane, but the only thing you people do after these shootings is ‘hopes and prayers’.. or ‘keep you in my thoughts’… every time… and wonder why these keep happening…”
When CNN read the post to a friend of Long’s, who did not want to be publicly identified, the friend said, “That does not sound like Ian to me at all. I don’t know what was going through his head when he wrote this. It must have been terrible.”
Shooter began firing outside
Survivors of the shooting said the gunman, dressed in black and wearing glasses, shot a security guard outside and then shot a young woman working at the counter just inside the door before opening fire on others.
Police found Long dead of what Dean said he believed to be a self-inflicted gunshot.
One handgun, a legally purchased .45-caliber Glock, was at the scene. The gunman used an extended magazine in the shooting, Dean said.
He was a frequent visitor to the bar
On Thursday morning, Dean said he did not know of any connection between Long and the Borderline bar.
But Long’s friends told CNN he was there frequently.
“We would go to Borderline together. He really liked it,” said one woman who has been friends with Long for five years and does not want her name made public.
“I would make fun of him, because he would drag me there. Sometimes we’d go there to have a drink, sit and talk, listen to music,” she said.
Borderline, a Western-themed establishment known to regularly host country, salsa and swing dancing nights, was hosting a college country night on Wednesday evening.
“There was a community there. He was a part of that community. The whole bar is line dancing. People do choreographed dances for hours, cowboy boots and hats in the middle of the suburbs of Thousand Oaks,” the friend said.
A person who was a friend of Long’s until their early 20s and who did not want their name revealed publicly similarly said they used to go to Borderline together. The friend expressed shock that Long could be a killer.
“I don’t know what the hell happened. He was always happy. I never thought this would ever come from him. We used to go snowboarding all the time. He was a good guy,” the friend said.
A third friend who did not want to be publicly identified said Long stopped communicating two years ago but said the shooting was unlike him.
“He wasn’t unhinged, he wasn’t violent. He was a sweet guy who served his country and was using his GI Bill to go to college and get a degree to help more people,” the friend said. “Out of our group of friends I thought the highest of him.”
Todd Stratton, who knew Long from high school, was at Borderline but didn’t get a good enough look to recognize the shooter.
He said Long had anger issues in school but it was nothing that concerned him.
He was in the Marine Corps
The gunman was a corporal in the Marines from August 2008 to March 2013, according to Defense Department records.
He went to Afghanistan from November 2010 to June 2011.
Thomas Burke, a pastor who served with Long in the same US Marine Corps regiment, said Long’s battalion arrived during intense fighting in Helmand province.
But Burke warned against too quickly blaming Long’s actions on trauma experienced during war.
“PTSD doesn’t create homicidal ideation,” Burke said. “We train a generation to be as violent as possible, then we expect them to come home and be OK. It’s not mental illness. It’s that we’re doing something to a generation, and we’re not responding to the needs they have.”
Long posted information about his military service on a special forces forum called ShadowSpear in March 2017.
Under the name “doorkicker03,” Long said he was an infantry machine gunner while in the Marine Corps for 4½ years, and was an instructor in Okinawa in Japan.