California Bar Shooter Posted on Social Media Shortly Before and During Massacre

FBI agents on Thursday collect evidence at the home of Ian David Long, who is suspected of shooting people in a bar. The home is located in Thousand Oaks, northwest of Los Angeles.
FBI agents on Thursday collect evidence at the home of Ian David Long, who is suspected of shooting people in a bar. The home is located in Thousand Oaks, northwest of Los Angeles. Photo: apu gomes/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images

The gunman who killed 12 people at a Southern California bar was posting on Facebook and Instagram immediately before and during the massacre, according to a law-enforcement official.

Investigators are trying to figure out why 28-year-old Ian David Long opened fire Wednesday night at the Borderline Bar & Grill in Thousand Oaks, Calif., during its weekly country-music dance party for college students.

The Victims

  • Ronald Helus, 54 years old
  • Daniel Manrique, 33
  • Noel Sparks, 21
  • Alaina Housley, 18
  • Blake Dingman, 21
  • Jacob Dunham, 21
  • Mark Meza, 20
  • Sean Adler, 48
  • Justin Meek, 23
  • Cody Gifford-Coffman, 22
  • Telemachus Orfanos, 27
  • Kristina Morisette, 20

A Facebook post published to his account around the time of the attack said, “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…,” a spokeswoman for the company confirmed.

Long’s profiles on Facebook and Instagram, which the social-media giant owns, were deleted after the attack because Facebook doesn’t allow mass killers to have a presence on its platforms, the spokeswoman said.

The nine men and three women killed in the shooting ranged in age from 18 to 54 and included Navy veteran Telemachus Orfanos, a 27-year-old who had survived the shooting massacre at a Las Vegas country-music festival last year, and Daniel Manrique, 33, who like Long was a Marine Corps veteran.

Twelve people were killed when a gunman opened fire at a crowded bar in Thousand Oaks, Calif., Wednesday night. Sgt. Ron Helus, who responded at the scene, and Cody Coffman were among those killed. Photo: Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

The youngest was Alaina Housley, an 18-year-old who was excited about majoring in English Literature at Malibu-based Pepperdine University. “Words can’t describe our grief over losing our daughter,” her parents said.

Long had previously gone to the Borderline Bar & Grill on at least a few occasions, said Stacie Armentrout, a spokeswoman for a group of survivors from last year’s massacre at the country-music festival in Las Vegas. Some of those survivors frequented the Borderline, which held a benefit concert for them, said Ms. Armentrout.

Two years ago, he legally purchased the .45 -caliber Glock handgun he used in the attack, according to a law-enforcement official.

Those who served with Long recalled him on Facebook as a “great marine.” Some posted their phone numbers and implored fellow soldiers to call them if they are having any mental-health issues. The Ventura County Sheriff said Long may have suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder.

After leaving the military in 2013, Long made an effort to enroll in the Department of Veterans Affairs system, but quit the process before receiving any health-care benefits, according to a person familiar with the matter. Curt Cashour, a spokesman for the agency, said that Long “was not enrolled in VA health care at any time” and “did not apply for VA health care.”

Within the past few days, Long called several people with whom he served in the Marine Corps to ask how they were doing,

John Charley, who now lives in New Mexico, said Long helped him with a recent breakup. “He was like, ‘Hey man are you alright? Don’t do anything crazy,’ “ Mr. Charley said.

When Mr. Charley saw Long’s face a few days later on the TV as a mass murderer, he was in disbelief, he says. “That’s not Ian. I understand he did some bad things but that wasn’t the guy I looked up to.”

Long served in a squad that ended up working in what one former comrade described as “the most combative area” of their battalion’s region where they lived for two months in “fighting holes.”

It wasn’t clear why Long didn’t complete the VA application process. Mr. Cashour said Long’s information may have been automatically entered into the VA enrollment system when he applied for GI Bill benefits. The agency in recent years has made an effort to promote health care, especially mental health services.

“Almost no one gets turned away for mental health,” said Lou Celli, executive director of the American Legion.

The VA has been criticized for delays and errors in the enrollment system. A September 2017 General Accounting Office report showed delays in the multistep process. It found that approximately half of the enrollment applications they reviewed had been delayed past the target date of five business days for initial review.

Mr. Cashour with the VA said the department has since sent letters to everyone with incomplete enrollment giving them one year to finish the process.

Write to Zusha Elinson at, Alexandra Berzon at and Erin Ailworth at

Appeared in the November 10, 2018, print edition as ‘Shooter Posted on Social Media.’