THOUSAND OAKS, CA (RNN) - The victims of a shooting at a Southern California bar on Wednesday night included many young people who were out enjoying college night, others who were just out playing pool and watching the Lakers, and a sheriff’s deputy who gave his life trying to stop a massacre.
The shooting at the Borderline Bar & Grill killed 12, less than two weeks after a synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh killed 11.
Cody Coffman, 22, was among those slain at the bar. Jason Coffman, his father, spoke to CNN in the hours after the shooting when he didn’t know his son’s status, and he spoke publicly once he learned of his son’s death.
“I just want to thank everybody that let me get out this morning, just to put his face on the news," said the father through tears. "This is going to be an absolute heart-wrenching time for me and my family.”
Another victim was identified as Alaina Housley. The Pepperdine University student was the niece of “Sister, Sister” actress Tamera Mowry-Housley and her husband.
Her family said “our hearts are broken” in a statement.
“Alaina was an incredible young woman with so much life ahead of her and we are devastated that her life was cut short in this manner,” the statement said. “We thank everyone for your prayers and ask for privacy at this time.”
Justin Meek, 23, was also among the victims. His hometown newspaper in Coronado, near San Diego, reported he was “shot multiple times trying to save others.”
Noel Sparks, 21, was confirmed as a victim by her church on Facebook.
“We grieve with Tony Sparks and Wendy Anderson,” United Methodist Church Westlake Village wrote.
Dan Manrique, a Marine veteran, was named as a victim by the veterans outreach organization Team Red, White, and Blue, with which he was a regional manager.
"Dan’s life was dedicated to serving others, during his military career and beyond,” the group’s executive director, John Pinter, said.
A bouncer at the bar, Sean Adler, was identified by the school where he once coached wrestling.
“He was positive, motivational, and truly wanted the best for the people around him,” Royal High School Wrestling posted on Facebook.
The Thousand Oaks Acorn newspaper in the city also identified four more on Facebook. They were Blake Dingman, Jake Dunham, Kristina Morisette and Telemachus Orfanos.
In an emotional news conference, Ventura County Sheriff Geoff Dean said Ron Helus, a sergeant from his department, was among the 12 victims who were killed. Helus was one of the first responders to the scene.
Helus was a 29-year veteran of the force, looking to retire in the next year. He is survived by his wife and son.
“Losing Ron, we go to the gym together and work out together," Dean said. “There’s no way to describe this. It saddens us all and tears at our emotions. He died a hero. He went in to save lives, to save other people."
Dean said there had been six off-duty police officers from different departments in the bar at the time. Witnesses said they helped shield people.
Law enforcement officials identified the suspect as 28-year-old Ian David Long, a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps. Dean said the suspected gunman died at the scene from what they believe is a self-inflicted wound.
Authorities said he deployed a smoke device and used a Glock.
The shooting happened around 11:20 p.m. Wednesday local time at the Borderline Bar & Grill. Witnesses report at least 30 shots were fired, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Police had multiple run-ins with Long in the past, Dean said. They responded to a call at a house in April where the suspect was acting irrationally.
“They called out our crisis intervention team, our mental health specialists who met with him, talked to him and cleared him,” the sheriff said. “(They) didn’t feel he was qualified to be taken under 5150. And he was left at that scene last April.”
A “5150” is a code in California law stating a person is a danger to themselves or others because of a mental health issue.
The suspect lived with his mother in a nearby neighborhood where some neighbors said he “minded his own business.” The FBI was seen Thursday morning searching his home.
A former roommate told the Los Angeles Times that Long “wasn’t outgoing or talkative” and that he “kept to himself.”
The sheriff said he didn’t remember the city having another mass shooting in his time on the force. He retires Friday.
“I’ve been a cop for 41 years, and I never thought I’d see the things we’ve seen around the country," Dean said.
Dean gave the timeline for what happened at the bar: “It appears (the gunman) walked up to the scene. He shot the security guard that was standing outside. He stepped inside. It appears that he turned to the right and shot several of the other security and employees there, and then began opening fire inside the nightclub. We don’t have any other details to confirm an exact chronology about what happened.”
Deputies said many people fled the bar after shots rang out. Hundreds are believed to have been inside at the time of the incident, according to Capt. Garo Kuredjian with the sheriff’s office.
All the victims have been identified and their families have now been notified, Kuredjian said Thursday.
President Donald Trump ordered flags at half-staff to show respect.
Thousand Oaks is a suburb of Los Angeles, located about 40 miles northwest of downtown.