Oak Park mourns the loss of those killed at Borderline Bar & Grill shooting

13 dead after bar shooting

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Thousand Oaks, a city ranked the third safest in America by Business Insider, was added to the list of cities that have experienced mass shootings. The Borderline Bar & Grill shooting marked the 307th mass shooting in America in the 311 days of 2018, according to the Gun Violence Archive.

On Nov. 7, 12 people were killed at Borderline Bar & Grill. The following are the men and women who were killed: Sean Adler, Cody Coffman, Blake Dingman, Jake Dunham, Sgt. Ron Helus, Alaina Housley, Daniel Manrique, Justin Allen Meek, Marky Meza Jr., Kristina Morisette, Telemachus Orfanos and Noel Sparks.

This is the second instance of gun violence in Thousand Oaks in 2018, since March 7.

Moorpark College student Haley Ahern was at Borderline Bar & Grill the night of the shooting for college night, which is held every Wednesday night. She said that the gunman did not seem to be targeting anyone in particular as the gunshots were rapid.

“I was hiding under the DJ booth and I just closed my eyes for a second and [I] just kept hearing gunshots. I saw a fire extinguisher in front of us and I said, ‘You guys we need to grab the fire extinguisher, we need to break the window and we need to get out,’” Ahern said. “Some guy grabbed the fire extinguisher and broke the window and there was a little hole. My sister Casey pushed her body through the hole, like jumped out basically, and broke all the glass. I jumped out through the hole she made. We ran out, gunshots were still going on, and then we drove to a hospital.”

Casey Ahern wound up needing five stitches in her arm and 15 stitches in her leg after their escape out the window.

According to the World Health Organization, one of the reasons why hospitals need blood donations are for “people with severe trauma following man-made and natural disasters.” The Borderline Bar & Grill shooting classifies as a man-made disaster.

There were two blood drives held the day after the shooting Nov. 8. One at La Reina High School and the other at the Thousand Oaks Inn Best Western.

Seniors Ben Fuller, Dylan Rodgers, Ethan Martin and Aiden Glikmann went to the blood drive at La Reina.

“When it happens in your own backyard, it’s a very scary thing,” Fuller said. “I just want to help out however I can. I hope that there’s some change made and that we can all unite so this never happens again.”

Oak Park High School alumna and Moorpark College student Kimia Mohebi lives close to the bar and heard the sirens on Nov. 7. She also donated blood at the La Reina blood drive.

“[Seeing] hundreds of people today in line to donate blood was beautiful and gave me chills,” Mohebi said. “Seeing how comforting and empathetic everyone is being, makes me more hopeful towards the future.”

Sgt. Ron Helus was one of the first Ventura County sheriffs to arrive at the scene. His funeral at Calvary Church in Westlake Nov. 16 was attended by over 4,000 people.

Sophomore Lindsey Di Conti attended the funeral and worked the table where attendees could sign a guest book. She described that the funeral “really honored the officer,” and that there were officers from other states at the funeral, including a group from Orlando, Florida.

“[Helus’s funeral] was very touching, but also really difficult to watch. I didn’t even know him, but I was in tears,” Di Conti said.

Di Conti said that she “lost someone” at the Borderline Bar & Grill shooting. Noel Sparks, age 21 at the time of the shooting, worked alongside Di Conti’s mother at Calvary Church, their desks were next to each other. Di Conti knew Sparks since she was in her early teens as Sparks was her Church leader when she was in middle school. Di Conti attended Spark’s memorial Nov. 19.

“My favorite part was that, although it was sad and tragic, the people putting the memorial on chose to talk about the good and celebrate Noel,” Di Conti wrote to the Talon. “Their goal was not to focus on the horrific way Noel died, but how she lived. Noel loved to serve others. She called herself a caretaker, and they focused on that.”

Oak View High School alumnus Jordan Eminente also knew Sparks and attended a vigil Nov. 13 at Peppertree Playfield in Newbury Park with current Oak Park students. Eminente said that his cousin Sami Batt had lunch with Sparks the day of the Borderline Bar & Grill shooting.

Eminente discussed what Jason Coffman, father of Cody Coffman, said at the vigil.

“[Jason Coffman] was talking to all of us and he was really emotional, but he said ‘Now is really not the time to be grieving about it, it’s the time to be here for each other, for the community.’ Because that’s what his son would have wanted,” Eminente said. “So, what I took away from it was not to be grieving about it too much. We should all follow [Jason Coffman]’s idea and all be here for each other so we can move past it, but not forget it.”

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