LOS ANGELES —The ex-Marine who gunned down 12 people during a mass shooting in Thousand Oaks on Wednesday night was apparently posting to social media either during or right before he carried out the attacks, law enforcement officials said.
Ian David Long published messages or pictures to Instagram around the same time gunfire erupted inside the Borderline Bar and Grill on Wednesday night, according to two law enforcement officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity in order to discuss the case candidly.
In the posts, Long wrote that he hoped people would refer to him as “insane” after the shootings, and openly mocked the “thoughts and prayers” that are offered in public statements and on social media after mass shootings, according to one of the officials. The postings have since been scrubbed from Instagram and Facebook, the officials said.
Capt. Garo Kuredjian, a Ventura County Sheriff’s Department spokesman, said investigators were aware of Instagram posts Long made the night of the shooting. Kuredjian said he had viewed the postings but declined to describe them.
Long entered the bar, which was hosting a weekly promotion popular with area college students, around 11:20 p.m. and began shooting at people near the front door, according to Ventura County Sheriff Geoff Dean.
Within minutes, Sgt. Ron Helus and a California Highway Patrol officer entered the bar and engaged in a firefight with Long, who was armed with a semiautomatic pistol.
Helus was shot several times and died at an area hospital hours later. Long was found dead of a gunshot wound in the back of the bar, though it remains unclear if he took his own life or died after being shot by police.
The other 11 victims, most of whom have been identified by relatives or social media posts, are: Sean Adler, 48, Cody Coffman, 22, Blake Dingman, 21, Jake Dunham, 21, Alaina Housley, 18, Dan Manrique, 33, Justin Meek, 23, Kristina Morisette, 20, Mark Meza Jr., 20, Telemachus Orfanos, 27, and Noel Sparks, 21.
A motive for the slaughter remains unclear. Investigators have searched Long’s home and scoured his online writings, said Kuredjian, who warned that finding answers could take time. The crime scene alone could take several days to process, he said.
“If there is a motive, we can perhaps prevent something like this happening in the future,” Kuredjian said. “We owe it to the families that need an answer. We owe it to our sergeant’s family.”
While the investigation is ongoing, law enforcement officials told the Los Angeles Times it did not appear Long had any connection to known foreign or domestic terror or hate groups.
People who had lived with or knew Long said the gunman had problems with aggression and may have struggled with mental health issues after his discharge from the Marines in 2010. It was not clear if he was ever formally diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, a condition some who knew Long said he suffered from.
Long lived with his mother and neighbors said the two often engaged in screaming matches. Police had been called to the home in April, but mental health officials did not see fit to order Long to be involuntarily committed at that time.
A former teacher of Long’s also told the Times that he assaulted and groped her after an argument while he was a student at Newbury Park High School in 2008, before he joined the military. The school district has not responded to a request for comment.
A representative of the U.S. Department of Veteran’s Affairs said Long was never enrolled in any of the agency’s health care or treatment programs.
Area law enforcement officials said they had limited contact with Long outside of the April incident at his mother’s home. Long had also been the victim of a battery at another Ventura County bar several years ago, authorities said.
Miles Weiss, the chief Ventura County deputy district attorney overseeing criminal prosecutions, said his agency had no contact with Long as a witness, victim or suspect.
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