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Borderline Bar and Grill in Thousand Oaks to be demolished 2 years after mass shooting

Shaina Miller, who knew 10 of the 12 victims of the Borderline Bar and Grill mass shooting, visits the memorial in 2019.
Shaina Miller, who knew 10 of the 12 victims of the Borderline Bar and Grill mass shooting in Thousand Oaks, visits the memorial a year after the November 2018 massacre.
(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

Borderline Bar and Grill in Thousand Oaks, the site of a mass shooting that left 12 people dead in 2018, will likely be demolished next month at the request of the property’s owners, city officials said.

The building, which has housed some kind of restaurant that has been a gathering spot for residents for nearly 50 years, withstood the massacre and later a prolonged shuttering as the coronavirus closed bars and restaurants throughout California. But the city says the owners no longer wish to maintain the building.

“It was a place where people gathered for friendship, companionship, love and then, ultimately, terrible tragedy,” Thousand Oaks Mayor Claudia Bill-de la Peña said by phone Friday. “Once this building is gone, it will be painful for our community — not only for the Borderline families and survivors, but for the community at large.”

In November 2018, a former U.S. Marine opened fire inside the packed country music dance club, killing 11 patrons. A Ventura County sheriff’s sergeant who responded to the shooting also died in the gun battle. The lone gunman, who had been diagnosed with PTSD, shot himself in the head.

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Shortly after the shootings, a dozen white crosses were placed outside the establishment to honor the victims. A year later, the business still had not reopened when mourners came to pay their respects and commemorate the anniversary of the shooting.

Brian Hynes and Troy Hale, who together ran Borderline Bar and Grill, announced a few weeks later that they were working on bringing back the neighborhood bar, in addition to opening another venue.

The pair opened BL Dancehall & Saloon — with the BL standing for Borderline — in Agoura Hills in January 2020, according to the Ventura County Star.

Then the COVID-19 pandemic struck, shuttering bars for much of last year, with prospects still not boding well for an immediate reopening of eating and drinking establishments.

The original Borderline, which never reopened, still accumulated taxes, said Stephen Kearns, Thousand Oaks’ planning division manager. Hynes did not renew his lease, he added.

Kearns said the property’s ownership group, which was not identified, is seeking a contractor to demolish the structure. Neither Hale nor Hynes, whom Kerns said did not play a role in the decision to tear down the building, were immediately available for comment.

The property will likely be razed in mid- to late February, Kearns said. First, the inside will be gutted; then the outer structure will come down.

The ownership group is working with family and friends of the shooting victims to ensure that the crosses and other memorial items at the site are picked up before demolition begins. Kearns said that some have expressed interest in a keepsake from the bar’s interior.

A garden in nearby Conejo Creek North Park was dedicated on the one-year anniversary of the shooting. Supported by funds from the city, it’s “a space for the families and the public to grieve, reflect and heal,” city spokeswoman Melissa Hurtado said in an email.

Bill-de la Peña said she’s in informal talks with the ownership group about potentially creating another memorial on or near the Borderline property, but she couldn’t discuss details.


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