Several Borderline Bar Survivors Also Escaped Route 91 Shooting: Reports

Kent Nishimura/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images
Law enforcements at the scene of the shooting in Thousand Oaks, Calif. early Thursday, Nov. 8, 2018.

In a horrific coincidence, some of the survivors of the Borderline Bar & Grill shooting in Thousand Oaks, Calif., on Wednesday night (Nov. 7) also survived the mass shooting at the Route 91 Festival in Las Vegas one year ago, according to multiple reports.

The Los Angeles Times reported that one man, Chandler Gunn, rushed to the scene of Wednesday night's massacre to call a friend who worked at Borderline. That person was also in Las Vegas on Oct. 1, 2017, when a lone gunman killed 58 people and wounded more than 500 when he opened fire on a crowd gathered on the strip for the country music festival.

The friend told him that the 28 year-old gunman -- a Marine Corps vet who reportedly lived three miles from the bar with his mother -- opened fire on the crowd of mostly college students gathered for the bar's country music night and tossed "some type of tear gas" into the club as he began his attack. While Gunn said he hasn't been able to reach his friend again, he knows she's safe. The attack, which killed 12 people, including 29-year veteran sheriff's Sgt. Ron Helus, took place on a night when the bar is open to people 18 and over for line dancing lessons. 

“A lot of people in the Route 91 situation go here,” Gunn told the paper. “There’s people that live a whole lifetime without seeing this, and then there’s people that have seen it twice.” A patron at the bar, Savannah Stafseth, said, "It’s college night, it was insanely crowded...there are no words. Those are my people. It’s just not fair. It’s not fair...all these people after Route 91. It’s not fair.”

Another patron, 27 year-old Josh Coaly, was waiting to hear from a friend who was in the bar during the shooting and who had also been at the Route 91 festival.

Carl Edgar, 24, had nearly two dozen friends inside the Borderline when the shooter opened fire with what police described as a legally purchased semi-automatic Glock 21 .45-caliber handgun with an extended magazine that could hold up to 30 rounds. "As far as I know, all of my friends are OK, safe,” Edgar said. “There are a few people we can’t get ahold of, but in these situations people usually turn off their phones to be safe so I’m not gonna get too worried. A lot of my friends survived Route 91. If they survived that, they’ll survive this.”

Nicholas Champion told CBS News that he and many others at the Borderline, also survived last year's shooting in Las Vegas. "It's the second time in about a year and a month that this has happened," Champion said. "It's a big thing for us. We're all a big family and unfortunately this family got hit twice." Champion told CBS that he believed there "50 or 60 others" in the bar who had also been at Route 91, though that cannot be confirmed.

The shooter was a former machine gunner in the Marines and a decorated combat veteran of the war in Afghanistan who authorities said had an episode of erratic behavior last spring that they were told might be post-traumatic stress disorder; he is believed to have died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Ventura County Sheriff Geoff Dean said, "It's a horrific scene in there...there’s blood everywhere." The bloodshed was the latest in what seems to be a never-ending string of deadly mass shootings, which are happening with terrifying frequency across the United States.

It was the deadliest such attack since 17 students and teachers were killed at a Parkland, Fla. high school nine months ago. It also came less than two weeks after a gunman massacred 11 people at a synagogue in Pittsburgh. Dean said that there were six off-duty, unarmed police officers in the bar at the time of Wednesday night's shooting and that the parent of one survivor told him that one of the officers stepped in front of her daughter to shield her from the gunfire.

While there was not known motive for the massacre at press time, Dean told reporters that deputies had several interactions with the shooter over the past few years, including one in April after a reported disturbance at his home that resulted in a visit from mental health specialists, who determined at the time that he was not an immediate danger to himself or others and did not need to be involuntarily taken to a mental hospital.