Hundreds gather for memorials for Borderline shooting victims in Thousand Oaks

Friends and family gather at a memorial service for Justin Meek at Cal Lutheran University's Samuelson Chapel in Thousand Oaks.
(Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)

Hundreds gathered in a church at Cal Lutheran University on Saturday to remember Justin Meek, a 23-year-old who was gunned down at a bar in Thousand Oaks last week.

Meek was one of 12 killed by a gunman at Borderline Bar and Grill on Nov. 7. Every day this week, families and friends held tributes across Ventura County to the people lost in the massacre.

In the CLU chapel Saturday afternoon, where light streamed in through stained-glass windows, friends talked about Meek, who graduated from the university in May with a degree in criminal justice. Many remembered his playful sense of humor and good singing voice.

Just minutes into the service, many began wiping tears from their eyes as they watched a photo slideshow of Meek, grinning at Disneyland, wearing a cowboy hat and his graduation robes.


Paige Peel, a singer-songwriter, performed a piece she wrote to commemorate the Borderline shooting. Peel has also sung at other memorials this week.

“Why can’t the devil stay in hell where he belongs? And stop trying to settle a deal up here, just move along,” Peel sang. “These aren’t just walls and a door to walk through and take our own. No, this is our home.”

One of Meek’s friends, Michael Diaz, told of how much Meek loved his sister, Victoria Rose. When his mom became pregnant with Victoria Rose, she bought Meek a doll the size of a newborn. In the delivery room, Meek cut the umbilical cord.

“He practiced holding his sister for months before she was born,” Diaz said. “A big brother is exactly what he was.”

Victoria Rose followed her brother to CLU and also chose to major in criminal justice. Though the siblings have a three-year age difference, Meek liked to tell people they were fraternal twins.

“I believed him,” said Diaz, laughing.

After touring fire-devastated areas in Southern California, President Trump on Saturday evening met with families who lost loved ones in the Thousand Oaks shooting. Afterward, he spoke briefly with reporters.

“We hugged them and kissed them and it was very warm,” he said. “When you look at [all] the death, it’s just tragic.”


In other parts of Ventura County, families continue to mourn for those lost. On Friday, services were held for Kristina Morisette, 20, Dan Manrique, 33, and Telemachus Orfanos, 27. On Thursday, thousands showed up to pay tribute to Ventura County Sheriff’s Sgt. Ron Helus, who was gunned down while trying to save lives at the bar.

Family of Mark Meza Jr. plan to hold a memorial Sunday in Santa Barbara. Meza, who went by “Marky,” would have celebrated his 21st birthday Monday.

“If Marky wasn’t senselessly taken from us, we would be turning to him now for comfort during this unbelievably difficult time. We are so lucky to have had Marky in our lives,” the Meza family said in a statement. “Marky was a genuine light everywhere he went and wanted nothing more than to make people happy and bring smiles to everyone around him.”


At the end of Saturday’s service, Meek’s voice reverberated through the chapel as a video played of him singing in the CLU choir. Then, the members of the choir, who were lined up inside the chapel, crooned “What a Wonderful World” alongside Meek.

Meek’s family walked outside and released 15 white doves into the sky. The doves headed in separate directions but then joined together in a flock, flying north.

Twitter: @skarlamangla