On Thursday morning, Ian David Long walked into a bar in Thousand Oaks, Calif., and killed 12 people with a handgun and injured dozens more before turning the gun on himself. To the surprise of absolutely no one, interviews with those who knew Long describe a highly disturbed person, especially after his discharge from the Marines, which included at least one deployment in Afghanistan. But according to his high school track coach and classmates, Long was a time bomb even back then.
The Los Angeles Times spoke to Dominique Colell, who was a track coach at Newbury Park High School in 2008 when Long was a senior on the team. She described being assaulted by Long in one incident where she was trying to determine who owned a cell phone that had been found.
Long saw her with the phone and ran over, screaming expletives and demanding she return the phone. Colell refused. She said she told him she had to verify whether he was the owner by calling the number listed under “Mom.”
Long was shaking with rage, she said.
“He started to grab at me,” Colell said. “He reached around and with one arm, groped my stomach. He grabbed my butt with the other arm.”
She eventually pushed him off, then verified the phone belonged to him. But she booted him from the team for assaulting her.
Colell says administrators and other coaches pressured her to allow Long back on the team, telling her it could negatively affect his application to the Marines. The Marines “would save this kid,” Colell says one coach told her.
Colell allowed Long to rejoin the track team, she said because she feared it would jeopardize her own prospects for an art teacher position she was seeking. Upon his return, he continued to show signs of mental health issues.
“He was very determined and very angry,” she said. “He was probably the only student that I was actually scared of when I coached there.”
So now we all get to go through the motions again. The sports world will play its familiar part, with the L.A. Kings holding a moment of silence before last night’s game, and the Rams scheduling one of their own for Saturday.
If it feels like these gestures are increasingly empty, you’re not alone in that:
That sentiment—that helpless here we go again with empty gestures and an institutionally arrested ability to actually do anything sentiment—echoes in a frightening away what might’ve been the last words of Ian Long himself. Authorities have identified a Facebook post they believe was made by Long immediately before the attack. It read, in part:
“I hope people call me insane... [laughing emojis].. wouldn’t that just be a big ball of irony? Yeah.. I’m insane, but the only thing you people do after these shootings is ‘hopes and prayers’.. or ‘keep you in my thoughts’... every time... and wonder why these keep happening...”
Immediately upon accurately predicting exactly what would happen, Long murdered a dozen people.