A California man who escaped the mass shooting at a Las Vegas country music festival in October 2017 was one of the 12 people murdered a little more than a year later in another mass shooting at a country music venue.
Telemachus Orfanos was at Borderline Bar & Grill, a Thousand Oaks establishment packed Wednesday for “college country night,” when former Marine and Afghanistan war veteran Ian David Long entered the bar, deployed a smoke device and began coolly gunning down patrons.
Orfanos, 27, was a military veteran, too, serving in the U.S. Navy from 2011 to 2014 and moving back to California to stay with his parents after he finished his service. At the time of Wednesday’s shooting, he was working for a car dealership.
On Oct. 1, 2017, Orfanos attended the Route 91 Harvest Festival in Las Vegas when a gunman perched inside his room at the MGM hotel overlooking the venue rained down a hail of gunfire on the concertgoers, killing 58 people and wounded hundreds more. Orfanos made it out alive that night, and on Thursday morning, his mother, Susan Schmidt-Orfanos was hoping her son had been lucky again.
She made a desperate plea for gun control to reporters at the scene.
“I don’t want prayers. I don’t want thoughts,” she told reporters. “I want those b——– in Congress — they need to pass gun control so no one else has a child that doesn’t come home.”
Democratic Governor-elect Gavin Newsom lamented the violence in his first public appearance since winning his election earlier this week.
“It’s a gun culture,” he said. “You can’t go to a bar or nightclub? You can’t go to church or synagogue? It’s insane is the only way to describe it. The normalization, that’s the only way I can describe it. It’s become normalized.”
Orfanos’ father, Mark Orfanos, said the shooter – identified as ex-U.S. Marine David Ian Long – “was probably as much of a victim as everybody else.”
“I’m not gonna vilify this kid because he’s got parents that are grieving, too,” Mark Orfanos said. “And I feel sorry for them as well. Until I find out particularly what the specifics are with this kid who did the shooting I’m not gonna be vilifying him.”
He also echoed Newsom in blaming “gun culture.”
“How ironic that my son should be killed this way,” Orfanos said.
A police officer who talked to his wife just before rushing into the bar to save lives and a 22-year-old set to join the Army were also among the people killed in the bar.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.