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Remembering the 12 lives cut short in the Thousand Oaks shooting

A sheriff’s deputy about to retire, an aspiring soldier, a Marine Corps veteran, a survivor of the Las Vegas massacre and a Pepperdine University freshman were among the dead in Wednesday night’s mass shooting at a bar in Thousands Oaks, California. In all, 12 people were killed, and communities in California and across the country mourned the dead today.

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  • Amna Nawaz:

    Another mass shooting in America has left yet another community stricken with grief.

    We want to take a moment to remember the 12 people killed on Wednesday after a gunman opened fire at the Borderline Bar and Grill in Thousand Oaks, California.

    Cody Coffman had just turned 22 years old, and was in the process of joining the Army. His father, Jason, talked to reporters on the scene.

  • Jason Coffman:

    He was on his way to fulfilling his dream of serving the country. First thing I said was, please don't drink and drive. Last thing I said was, "Son, I love you." That was the last thing I said.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    Ken Dunham was also searching for his son, Jake Dunham, after his son's friend alerted him to the shooting. He tried to reach Jake repeatedly. Before the victims were named, he told NBC News — quote — "I keep calling, but there's no answer." Jake was 21 years old.

    Twenty-three-year-old Justin Meek was a bouncer at the Borderline Bar and Grill and broke windows at the bar to help people escape. Meek was a recent graduate of California Lutheran University, and, as a social worker, helped support families of children with special needs.

    Sean Adler, 48, also worked as a bouncer at Borderline. He recently changed careers, and had opened a coffee shop earlier this year. One of Adler's childhood friends told The New York Times — quote — "When we were younger, I got picked on. Sean was my protector. I needed that so badly at that time."

    Sergeant Ron Helus was a 29-year veteran of the Ventura County Sheriff's Office, and the first officer on the scene. Helus, who was planning to retire next year, rushed toward the shooting and exchanged gunfire with the shooter inside the bar. His friend, Sheriff Dean, delivered the news.

  • Geoff Dean:

    Sergeant Helus died at the — the sergeant passed away at the hospital about an hour ago.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    Daniel Manrique was a Marine Corps veteran who worked for a veterans support organization, Team Red White and Blue. The group released a statement saying — quote — "Dan's life was dedicated to serving others during his military career and beyond."

    Alaina Housley, 18, was a freshman at Pepperdine University, and the niece of actress Tamera Mowry, who confirmed her passing with this statement — quote — "Alaina was an incredible young woman. We are devastated that her life was cut short in this manner."

    Twenty-one-year-old Blake Dingman also died in the shooting. His younger brother, Aiden, posted to Instagram this message: "We tried for hours and hours to get in touch with Blake and got no response. Blake, I love you so much, and miss you more than you can imagine."

    Noel Sparks was a camp counselor for her church youth program and a student at Moorpark College. Her best friend, whom she met in Bible study, told reporters — quote — "She lived and loved like Jesus. She was genuinely caring and loved serving people."

    Telemachus Orfanos, known as Tel, was 27 years old. Last year, he survived the Route 91 Las Vegas massacre, America's worst mass shooting, only to die this week in Thousand Oaks.

    This was his mother's message:

  • Susan Schmidt-Orfanos:

    I don't want prayers. I don't want thoughts. I want gun control. And I hope to God nobody else sends me any more prayers.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    Kristina Morisette was 20 years old and worked the front desk as a cashier at Borderline Bar and Grill — quote — "I saw Kristina walking around right before it happened," a friend said. It still seems like a dream.

    Twenty-year-old Mark Meza Jr. was raised in Santa Barbara, and also worked at the restaurant as a busboy. His family said — quote — "Marky was a loving and wonderful young man who was full of life and ambition." He would have turned 21 in less than two weeks.

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