Friends, loved ones wait in the dark for news of those inside when bar shooting erupted
Two months ago, Tyler Odekirk started working as a security guard at the Borderline Bar & Grill. Soon, the 21-year old felt like he knew “everybody” at the bar.
That made the mass shooting there Wednesday night even harder to take as he struggled to reach friends.
“I can’t get anything to anybody that’s in there,” he said as he stood in the darkness with dozens of people on a sidewalk amid flashing police lights.
“I had a friend call me in a panic thinking that I was there,” Odekirk added. “I was home.”
Wednesday nights were college nights at the bar, he said. As many as 600 might come and go throughout the night. At any point there might be as many as 200 people inside the Borderline Bar & Grill, Odekirk said.
“It’s a country night,” he said.
He saw some people coming out of the bar. “They were on their way to the hospital and they were hysterical,” Odekirk said.
He said many of the regulars who come on such nights are survivors of the Las Vegas mass shooting at a country festival last year that left 58 people dead and hundreds injured.
“A lot of people that come here are Route 91 survivors, so if this happened to these people again —” he said, trailing off and taking a drag from a cigarette.
Odekirk said he panicked when he heard about the shooting. Then he got to the bar as fast as he could. And waited.
Odekirk’s cousin, also a security guard at the bar, also waited to hear from friends.
“Some are still hiding in the attic,” Zac Frye, 27, said before 2 a.m. “We heard one of our guards got shot and he’s in the hospital.”
Frye estimates that about 20 of his friends were at the bar late Wednesday.
“We’re all close friends there,” said the Ventura resident.
By sheer luck he was not at the bar when the shooting happened. He had planned to go, Frye said, to pick up his paycheck. Then he fell asleep.
“I’m just hoping everyone’s OK,” he said. “I was at the Vegas shooting. A lot of people there were.”
Members of the Ventura County Sheriff’s Dept. salute as a hearse carrying the body of Sgt. Ron Helus arrives at the coroner’s office in Ventura.(Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)
Tiffany Azpeitia, 26, left, and Jamie Eads, 23, both of Thousand Oaks, line up to donate blood for victims of the Borderline Bar and Grill mass shooting. “It is hard, everyone is like family there,” said Eads.(Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times)
Hundreds line up at La Reina High School in Thousand Oaks to donate blood for victims of the Borderline Bar and Grill mass shooting.(Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times)
A hearse carrying the casket of Sgt. Ron Helus heads north on the 101 Freeway past the Borchard Road overpass toward the medical examiner’s office in Ventura.(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)
Frye said the Las Vegas shooting was traumatizing.
“I was terrified something like this would happen ever since,” he said. “I always go to work with a gun in my car. … And I wasn’t there tonight. You’re always paranoid after something like that happens to you.”
Ryan Sehler, 20, also waited to hear from friends who had attended college night. He said he and his friends hang out at the Borderline regularly.
Sehler, who lives in Simi Valley, said students from Oxnard, Ventura and the San Fernando Valley frequent the bar.
“A lot of people bring their out of state friends or their out of country friends,” he said.
“It’s a small place and it’s usually completely filled,” the Moorpark College student said of the bar. “On a typical day, it’s all these college students are there and we have a good time. We dance with the music, you know. They even teach line dances. It’s a good time.”
Of the six or so friends who went to the bar, Sehler said he had only heard news about one person — an acquaintance whose mother he ran into on the street. The woman told him that her daughter had fled the bar and run into a stranger’s house nearby for shelter.
Sehler said that he’s been calling people who might have gone to the bar last night to make sure they were safe as well. The people he was able to get in contact with were all home.
“The main group I hang out with, that’s the ones I haven’t heard of yet,” he said. “Where are my friends at?”
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