Terrifying video, 911 calls released three years after Borderline mass shooting
"I have a bullet wound right here," the panicked caller can be heard telling a 911 operator, his voice trembling. "I have my best friend shot."
"I'm in the bathroom," a young woman whispers, her voice barely audible. "I no longer hear the shots being fired."
Those and other emergency calls made on Nov. 7, 2018, as well as raw video from the Borderline Bar and Grill in Thousand Oaks, were released Tuesday by Ventura County after litigation by the Los Angeles Times following a mass shooting that left 12 dead at the restaurant.
The documents show the terror and chaos that emerged when former U.S. Marine machine gunner Ian David Long opened fire before midnight at the crowded bar, which was hosting college country music night.
The records chronicle almost every moment after Long unleashed 61 rounds inside the bar, where 128 people were injured as they fled the bloody scene and 29 were hospitalized.
In the wake of the shooting, The Times requested video and audio related to the attack. The Times, the Associated Press and the publisher of the Ventura County Star sued Ventura County in April 2019 after officials refused to release numerous documents related to the shooting as well as dispatch calls, 911 tapes and body-worn and dashboard-camera video from officers responding to the scene.
After a drawn-out series of court battles, Ventura County released more than 90 emergency calls and a dozen body-camera and security videos.
One video shows Sheriff's Sgt. Ron Helus, one of the first law enforcement officers on the scene, entering the darkened bar with California Highway Patrol Officer Todd Barrett. The two were quickly ambushed by Long inside the entryway amid a hail of gunfire.
As Long repeatedly fired at the two, Helus was caught in the crossfire, shot five times by Long but ultimately killed by a bullet from Barret's gun. Despite being mortally wounded, Helus continued to fire at Long, 28, who moments later took his own life.
The Ventura County district attorney's office announced in December 2020 that Barrett would face no charges when it released edited video of the shooting. Some of the relatives of those killed have objected to the disclosures and are still opposing the release of the autopsy information.
An 86-page after-action report commissioned by the Ventura County Sheriff's Office found flaws in interagency communications and the tactical approach to the 2018 attack. It also reported considerable delays in rescuing Helus.
An array of security cameras captured the deadly scene, and images included in the massive report show Long approaching the bar wearing a dark-colored long-sleeve jacket and a dark baseball cap. He was armed with a folding knife and a .45-caliber Glock with a laser sight attached.
He was seething with resentment against college-age people who he believed hated and belittled him for his military service in Afghanistan, according to a report released last year that provides the clearest picture yet of the possible motive behind the mass shooting.
As he crosses the club's threshold, Long begins firing into the crowded room using a two-hand grip, the cameras showed, opening fire on patrons below the bar's trademark giant cowboy and disco ball saddle.
Chunks of what the cameras captured next are redacted. But as Long shoots his way through the building, he drops a smoke grenade and holes up in a front office, where cameras show him reloading ammunition from one of seven large illegal magazines.
From the office, he can see a large-screen television that shows an array of security camera images, allowing him to watch as Helus comes up the steps and into the club carrying a rifle, with Barrett close behind. The video released Tuesday shows Helus standing with his weapon aimed and a flashlight in hand seconds before Long ambushes him.
As terrified callers flooded emergency dispatch, 911 operators asked whether the shooter was still inside.
"I don't f—ing know," one man replies bluntly. "My friend is shot. He has killed a s—load of people."
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.