Victims of Thousand Oaks shooting were full of hope and heroism – NBCNews.com

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By James Rainey and Dareh Gregorian

THOUSAND OAKS, California — A father’s desperate search for his son ended in crushing heartbreak in Thousand Oaks on Thursday.

“I’ve been here fighting for him all morning long, and we did just get the news that he was one of the [12] that were killed last night,” the man, Jason Coffman, told reporters, choking back tears. “His name was Cody Coffman, my first-born son.”

“Only him and I know home much I love … how much I miss, miss him,” Coffman said, holding his fist to his heart as he struggled to speak. “Oh, son! I love you so much.”

Cody Coffman, 22, a youth baseball coach who’d planned to join the Army, according to his dad, was one of the dozen people who were slain when a gunman opened fire inside Borderline Bar and Grill.

Nov. 8, 201801:48

Telemachus Orfanos, 27, was a survivor of the shooting last year in Las Vegas, where a gunman killed 58 at the Route 91 Harvest festival last year. He had also been a Navy SEAL, said his father, Marc.

“He was a survivor of Las Vegas and how ironic, right,” Marc Orfanos said. “And [he] was a bit of a gun enthusiast. … You know who I hold responsible for this — the gun culture, OK.”

Telemachus Orfanos
Telemachus Orfanosvia Facebook

Justin Meek, 23, an alumnus of California Lutheran University, was killed, as well. The university said he “heroically saved lives in the incident.”

Cal Lutheran students said witnesses told them that Meek jumped in front of his sister and others to shield them.

“Everything he did was really brave,” said Meek’s friend Lala Lyman, who wasn’t at the bar. “It was heroic. We lost someone truly great.”

“Cal Lutheran wraps its arms around the Meek family and other families, and around every member of this community of caring,” the university said on its website.

IMAGE: Justin Meek
Justin Meek.via Facebook

Meek graduated from Cal Lutheran in May — as did his mother, friends told NBC News.

Meek enjoyed the country-themed Borderline because he loved line dancing, pals said — he’d even founded Cal Lutheran’s line dancing club. He’d promoted Wednesday’s “College Country Night” event on his Instagram page.

Sean Adler, 48, a married father of two, was working at Borderline to make extra money, his sister Valarie Adler told NBC Los Angeles.

“From what I understand, Sean tried to disarm” the shooter, Adler said. “That is typical of Sean. He was a protector, always sticking up for people. He was a caring, compassionate individual. I just don’t understand. I don’t understand the world.”

Also gunned down while trying to save lives was Sgt. Ron Helus, a 29-year veteran of the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department.

Nov. 8, 201801:32

Helus, 54, was married with a son. He called his wife just before he went into the bar, where he was killed in a shootout with the gunman.

“I gotta go. I love you, I’ll call you later,” his boss, Sheriff Geoff Dean, quoted him as saying.

Sheriff’s Sgt. Eric Buschow said Helus “had every intention of going in there and ending that threat and saving lives.”

“Unfortunately, he was just met immediately with gunfire,” Buschow said. “It’s a tragic loss for all of us, for the community.”

IMAGE: Alaina Housley
Alaina Housley.via Facebook

Another victim was Alaina Housley, 18, a student at Pepperdine University and the niece of the actress Tamera Mowry-Housley. The university said she was from Napa, California, and was a freshman majoring in English.

Mowry-Housley and her husband, former Fox News correspondent Adam Housley, spent the night trying to find out what had happened to Alaina. Adam Housley, who went to Los Robles Medical Center at 3:30 in the morning to look for her, told the Los Angeles Times that he feared the worst because her Apple Watch and her iPhone showed that her location was still at the bar.

Housley later issued a statement on behalf of Alaina’s parents, which said, in part: “Words can’t describe our grief over losing our daughter, Alaina. She was everything we could hope for in a child: kind, smart, beautiful and respectful.”

Nov. 9, 201800:51

Madeleine Carr, a junior majoring in journalism who once interviewed Housley, said she quickly became a prominent member of the college community.

“She’s only been here since August, and she’d already found her way into choir and mock trial and all these different facets of the community,” Carr said. “Usually, you see people just getting involved in one — not all. And she seemed to have found her way into a lot of people’s hearts.”

Law enforcement officials identified the shooter as Ian David Long, a former Marine.

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