According to his high school track coach, Thousand Oaks shooter Ian David Long showed signs of mental instability in high school. In fact she was sexually assaulted by him but was told by other school officials to not report it to law enforcement.
In an interview with local CBS News affiliate KCAL, Long’s former coach claimed that the mass murderer attacked and sexually groped her 10 years ago. Due to pressure from others in the high school, however, she never reported it to authorities. Instead, she said, she decided to just kick him off the track team as his punishment.
Long is known to be responsible for the mass shooting at a Thousand Oaks nightspot on Wednesday night that killed 12 people and injured many others. After committing the murderous act Long turned the gun on himself, making him the thirteenth victim of the heinous crime.
The former track coach, Dominique Colell, spoke with local reporters and recalled the sexual assault incident from ten years ago. She said it started with a dispute over a cell phone, but then accelerated as Long groped her sexually as he struggled with her, trying to get the phone out of her possession.
“He attacked me. He attacked his high school track coach,” said Colell to the reporters. “Who does that?”
Colell recalled that she had found the phone in the school and was in the process of trying to find out who owned it when Long blew up and attacked her.
“Ian came up and started screaming at me that it was his phone,” Colell said of the incident. “He just started grabbing me. He groped my stomach. He groped my butt. I pushed him off me and said after that — ‘you’re off the team.’ “
Colell said she was told by other coaches and administration officials at Newbury Park High School to just accept his apology and take no further action. They were afraid that if she reported the incident to law enforcement that it would ruin his future and hurt his chances of being accepted into the U.S. Marine Corps.
“I should have reported it then,” lamented Colell.
Colell also said that she does not believe the mass murder was just a case of Long being afflicted with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). She said that in her opinion Long had major mental issues long before he ever went into the Marine Corp.
“There are hundreds of thousands of people with PTSD,” said Colell. “They don’t go around shooting people. This kid was mentally disturbed in high school. There were signs and the administration knew it.”
It is likely that what Dominique Colell said is true. If she and other school officials had taken steps to help Long deal with his mental problems in high school it is probable that he would never have turned into a mass murderer. But that is something that she and other officials from Newbury Park High School are going to have to learn to live with for the rest of their lives.
One thing that we can hope for, however, is that this latest tragic shooting will propel members of Congress to finally take action to better regulate the ownership and use of guns.
I am a lifelong Democrat with a passion for social justice and progressive issues. I have degrees in writing, economics and law from the University of Iowa.