The Thousand Oaks Shooting: Updates

[Content Note: Gun violence; disablism; toxic masculinity.]

Over the last 24 hours, we've learned the identities of the people who were killed when Ian David Long who opened fire in a bar in Thousand Oaks, California yesterday, killing 12 people and injuring others before killing himself: Sean Adler, 48; Cody Coffman, 22; Blake Dingman, 21; Jake Dunham, 21; Ron Helus, 54; Alaina Housley, 18; Daniel Manrique, 33; Justin Meek, 23; Marky Meza, Jr., 20; Kristina Morisette, 20; Telemachus "Tel" Orfanos, 27; and Noel Sparks, 21.

My condolences to their families, friends, and all who knew them. I am so sorry.

We've also learned more about Ian David Long, a former marine who was thought to have PTSD, though apparently did not have an official diagnosis. Naturally, many people are using reports of his having PTSD to spin the old "mentally ill lone wolf" chestnut, but Long had a history of being abusive that predated his time in the military. Like virtually every other mass shooter, he was abusive toward women:
"He attacked me. He attacked his high school track coach," said [Dominique Colell]. "Who does that?"

...Colell says it happened during practice when someone found a phone and she was trying to figure out who it belonged to.

"Ian came up and started screaming at me that was his phone," said Colell. "He just started grabbing me. He groped my stomach. He groped my butt. I pushed him off me and said after that — 'You're off the team.'"

But Colell says she was encouraged by other coaches and the school to accept an apology to not ruin his future in the Marine Corps.

"I should have reported it then," said Colell.

And although she never would have predicted this, Colell says she doesn't believe this is just a case of PTSD. She says Long had issues long before he was ever a Marine.

"There are hundreds of thousands of people with PTSD," said Colell. "They don't go around shooting people. This kid was mentally disturbed in high school. There were signs and the administration knew it."
Long had also had multiple interactions with police over many years, most of them for minor infractions, but there was a serious confrontation in April of this year, during which police were seen by neighbors "drawing their guns and rifles and training them on the house," because Long was inside thrashing irately and refusing to come out. He eventually came outside to talk to police, but they decided he wasn't a threat and left.
Deputies who responded to the incident said Long was irate and acting irrationally, said Ventura County Sheriff Geoff Dean. The sheriff's crisis-intervention team and mental health specialist met with Long, and those who evaluated him discussed the possibility that "he might be suffering from PTSD," Dean said, because of Long's service.

Under a 5150 order, authorities are allowed to take people into custody and hold them for up to 72 hours because they are considered a threat to themselves or others. But the mental health crisis team that evaluated Long cleared him, Dean said. If they had placed him under a psychiatric hold, he would have lost the legal right to own a gun.
Long's mother was worried about him, but Long reportedly refused help. It's unclear if she was the one who called police in April, or if it was one of the neighbors who heard him violently raging inside their home, but someone certainly urged authorities to pay attention to Long.

And if they had, perhaps 12 people would still be alive.

I'm deeply troubled by the way men raising flags with people around them are "evaluated" by law enforcement: If they can calm themselves down enough to seem vaguely reasonable, and personally assure responding officers that they're cool, that's enough. Never mind that Long's mother and neighbors knew he was a ticking threat.

Surely the assessment of people who live with and beside men raising flags should carry more weight.

[CN: Description of violence] I'm reminded of that recent case in Russia in which the husband kept threatening the (now ex-)wife that he was going to take her into the woods and hurt her with a knife, so she called police to report him, and the officer who showed up asked him if he was going to do that, and he said no, so the officer just left. And then the guy took his now ex-wife into the woods and cut off both of her hands.

In court under questioning, he smirkingly noted that he simply lied to the police officer.

It seems pretty clear that Long did the same. He simply lied about being a danger to himself and to others.

Of course we need a high threshold for involuntary holds — especially because abusive men would use it against women all the damn time if it were easy. (Oh the bitter irony.) But it really shouldn't be difficult for police officers to discern the difference between someone who is trying to use an involuntary hold against someone because they're abusive fucks and a parent or partner or teacher or boss or neighbor who is desperately begging them for help.

It has to be harder for guys like Long to convince law enforcement they're not a threat. Because here we are.

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