Among the 12 who died Wednesday at the hands of a masked shooter were a police officer who died a hero, a young man planning on serving the military, a college graduate who worked with children who have developmental disabilities, and a student planning to study law.
These are the everyday heroes who became victims of the country’s most recent mass shooting Wednesday, killed in the quiet community of Thousand Oaks, California. All were at a country music bar.
They were killed by gunman Ian David Long, who turned his weapon on himself to end the rampage that left a dozen people dead, Star Tribune reports.
The city of Thousand Oaks stood still Wednesday as the body of the fallen police officer, Sgt. Ron Helus, was transported to the coroner’s office. A fire truck full of firefighters stopped on the highway, and all got out of the truck to stand on top of the vehicle, saluting the procession that accompanied the body.
The names and faces of the victims were revealed Thursday as a shattered community attempted to pull itself back together in the wake of the shooting.
Sgt. Ron Helus told his wife he loved her and “I’ll talk to you later” before he responded to a call at the Borderline Bar & Grill. She will never speak to her husband again.
Helus exchanged fire with the shooter, who was still in the bar. Helus was hit with multiple shots and died at the hospital.
Cody Coffman, 22, was planning on joining the U.S. Army. He was already in contact with recruiters when he was gunned down. Cody liked to fish and play baseball. His father’s last words were “I love you.”
Justin Meek, 23, just graduated from California Lutheran University. He worked with special needs kids, and he was a good singer who liked to perform. He also worked at the Borderline bar. The president of California Lutheran said that Meek “heroically saved lives” during the shooting before he was killed, according to the BBC.
Alaina Housley, 18, attended school at Pepperdine University until she was shot and killed. He planned to study law. She was the niece of “Sister, Sister” star Tamera Mowry-Housley. She played tennis and soccer.
The shooter was Ian David Long, 28, a Marine Corps veteran. He had previous brushes with the law and had mental health issues. He served in Afghanistan in 2010, according to USA Today.
Those who knew him say he was anti-social, a loner who sometimes behaved strangely.