California bar shooting stuns idyllic Thousand Oaks: ‘Nothing ever happens here’

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California bar shooting stuns idyllic Thousand Oaks: ‘Nothing ever happens here’

Among those in the video is Chris Harrison, host of ABC’s “The Bachelor” series, who moved to the area after growing up in Texas.

“This is a little piece of heaven,” he said of Thousand Oaks.

At the Borderline Bar and Grill, Wednesday is the weekly “college country night” for students; while there is just one small university, California Lutheran University, in Thousand Oaks itself, there are more than a dozen within a 30-mile radius of the city center, including Moorpark College 8 miles away, Pepperdine University 14 miles away and California State University Northridge 20 miles away.

California Lutheran students described the Borderline as a favorite haunt, where they could kick back midweek or on weekends.

On Wednesdays, patrons listen to country music and take line-dancing lessons from a DJ, they said. Several students said they knew the bar staff so well, they felt like family.

“It’s a place you would go in the middle of the week just to detox and get away from the pressure of studying,” said freshman Christopher Noji, who has barely missed a Wednesday night since school started. “It’s like our safe place. It’s a sanctuary. Now I guess that is lost.”

Noji was ready to go to the Borderline on Wednesday night but said he and his friends changed their minds at the last minute.

“I had a biology test today. People were tired. We just weren’t feeling it,” Noji said. “It’s a blessing. It’s a miracle, to be honest.”

Pepperdine junior Madeleine Carr said she and her roommate had thought about going the the Borderline Wednesday night, but her roommate decided not to because of homework, so Carr didn’t go either.

“When I heard it, it seemed just really surreal, that the place that you just, maybe an hour ago, were like, ‘Oh, maybe I’ll go’ — just like the odds of that occurring and just the close-to-home nature of it … it just blew my mind.”

The full list of victims’ names had not been released as of Thursday afternoon. A family reunification center was set up at the Alex Fiore Thousand Oaks Teen Center, where relatives and friends anxiously waited for news.

Tucker Gibson, 19, arrived looking for an update on a friend from childhood who couldn’t be reached after the shooting.

“I don’t know where he is,” Gibson said. “I wanted to hear about my friend. They said he’s missing still,” he said as he left the center.

Meanwhile, at La Reina High School, where a scheduled blood drive was taking place, hundreds of people were waiting in a line that stretched far down the block to donate.

“This is our community,” said Terri Healy, 56, of Simi Valley, who was in line with co-workers from the medical office where they work, which is next door to the Borderline. “You just want to do something.”

Kimberly Gausman, 40, a mother of two, waited for more than an hour and a half to donate blood. When she saw the huge line of donors, she said she “welled up with tears, because it does give some comfort.”

Ventura County sheriff’s Sgt. Julie Novak told NBC News affiliate KNBC that the attack would not change the giving nature of the area.

“Thousand Oaks is not going to be defined by this shooting,” she said. “There is good out there. And I’m just so proud of this community.”

Stan Ziegler, a captain and spokesman for the Ventura County Fire Department, said part of what makes Thousand Oaks such a desirable place to live is its strong “community feeling.”

He said he hoped residents would not stop living their everyday lives as a result of the shooting.

“We don’t have to live in fear,” he said.

Richie Duchon, Phil Helsel and James Rainey reported from Thousand Oaks. Elizabeth Chuck reported from New York.

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