Community members, who are also facing wildfire danger in Ventura County, attended gatherings at California Lutheran University, Moorpark College and a theater in the Thousand Oaks Civic Center to honor the victims of the attack at the Borderline Bar & Grill Wednesday night.
“What has happened should have never happened, and we have been drawn into this terror,” Scott Maxwell-Doherty, the university pastor at California Lutheran, said at that service.
“The endless stream of questions will bubble up in our souls, as they have begun in mine. Is this real? How can this be? How will I work my way through this event to make sense of it?”
Ventura County authorities said gunman Ian David Long, a Marine Corps veteran, began shooting at the bar with a .45-caliber handgun just before midnight Wednesday. Sheriff Geoff Dean said Long, 28, first threw smoke bombs into the tavern, and ultimately killed himself before police could take him.
At Moorpark College Thursday night, students were joined by faculty and staff at the administration building, after high winds forced the group from the outside.
At the civic center, Thousand Oaks Mayor Andy Fox promised “the dawn will break.”
Other vigils were held elsewhere in the state, including the San Francisco Bay Area.
Ventura County Sheriff’s Sgt. Ron Helus was praised as a hero for acting quickly during the attack, but Dean said his life was “no more important or less important than the loss of the other 11 lives that needlessly left us that tragic night,” the Ventura County Star reported.
Dean said he told Helus’ wife the sheriff’s office and California Highway Patrol veteran saved many lives with his quick response.
“She looked at me through her tears and said, ‘He would have wanted it that way, because he was all about making the ultimate sacrifice.'”