Amid Wildfires, Thousand Oaks Has Continued to Mourn the Victims of a Mass Shooting

As the heartbreak continues, a community bands together

In the early morning hours of November 8, as a community had barely begun to process the mass shooting at Borderline Bar & Grill in Thousand Oaks that left 12 people dead, the smell of smoke began to fill the air. By dawn, the Woolsey Fire was a fully fledged disaster, forcing the evacuation of thousands, including people who’d been personally affected by the Borderline massacre, perpetrated by a former Marine with a legally purchased handgun.


USA Today spoke with Shawn Thornton, senior pastor at a church of which two victims were members and who was forced to evacuate his Simi Valley home shortly after finding out about the murders. His response, like many others’, has been to attempt to find ways to help, even as the chaos continues; mere hours ago, residents who’d just returned home after a previous evacuation order was withdrawn were again forced to pack up and leave when the Woolsey Fire flared up south of Thousand Oaks. (A full list of current evacuations is available on the County of Los Angeles’ website.)

In the days that have elapsed since the shooting—and amid the wildfires—the community has banded together in variety of ways to memorialize the 12 victims of Ian David Long’s shooting rampage: Sgt. Ron Helus, Sean Adler, Cody Coffman, Blake Dingman, Jake Dunham, Alaina Housley, Daniel Manrique, Mark Meza, Kristina Morisette, Justin Meek, Tel Orfanos, and Noel Sparks.

Last night, ABC 7 reported from the scene as hundreds gathered to celebrate the lives of victims Blake Dingman and Jake Dunham, off-roaders who were also best friends. Earlier in the day, people lined up down the sidewalk outside the Toppers Pizza in Camarillo, which hosted a fundraiser for the family of victim Cody Coffman, whose father was among the first to publicly identify a loved one as a victim.

On Thursday, November 15, a memorial service is being held for Ventura County Sheriff’s Office sergeant Ron Helus, who was among the first officers to arrive at the scene of the shooting. According to the Ventura County Star, the service will take place at Cavalry Baptist Church in Westlake Village and will be immediately followed by a procession to Pierce Brothers Valley Oaks Memorial Park, where Helus will be laid to rest.

Online, a Gofundme campaign to raise money for the family of Sgt. Helus has brought in upward of $35k since Thursday. Gofundme campaigns have also been established to raise funds for the families of Blake Dingman and Mark Meza; a general victims’ fund on the platform, established by the Rotary Club of Westlake Village, has so far raised more than $80k.

And all day today, the Shake Shack at the Promenade at Westlake is donating all of its proceeds to a fund for victims of both area tragedies.

Meanwhile, the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department and the FBI are still attempting to identify and interview everyone who was present the night of the shooting. They’ve asked that people who haven’t yet been contacted by police email [email protected]

RELATED: How Malibu’s Rehabs Centers Have Responded to the Woolsey Fire

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