The series of events that tested the community one-year ago comprimised innocence, security, and safety. On the anniversary of the Borderline shooting the Thousand Oaks community came together in memory of the tragedy.
The night of Nov. 7, 2018, a gunman open fired at the Borderline Bar and Grill, and 12 members of the Thousand Oaks community were killed and many were injured. The next night, a vigil was held at the Civic arts’ plaza in memory of the survivors and the lost. Only a few hours later hundreds awoke to evacuation orders due to the Hill and Woolsey fires.
Freshman Jacob Paulsen was near Borderline at the time of the shooting.
“Me and a couple of my friends and my dad were driving, and we were on Thousand Oaks Boulevard… we thought we heard fireworks, so we decided to check it out,” Paulsen said. “There was a cop there, and we asked what’s happening, and he’s like there’s a gun… a person shooting at the Borderline Bar. He’s killing people.”
The next day Thousand Oaks locals filled blood drives to their maximum capacity, packed the makeshift memorial near Borderline with flowers, flags and messages while fundraising for the families affected began immediately.
“It’s actually incredible, just the way that people have been coming together as a whole, thinking about each other, having friends around them…” Paulsen said.
A year later the city gathered again on the anniversary of the tragedy, multiple events held in the victims memory.
‘Thousand Oaks remembers’ was a story-telling gathering where community members affected by the shooting and ensuing fires shared their experiences. The Borderline Strong Concert Party, which was held at the Civic Arts Plaza, and a permanent memorial known as the Healing Garden had its grand opening at Conejo Creek Park.
“This project was envisioned as a place to remember our loved ones, our friends, and our neighbors, the 12 victims, and the 248 survivors,” Chuck Huffer, Conejo Recreation and Park District board chair, said. “It’s designed as a spot for everyone who is looking for a place to reflect, a place to continue the healing process…and a place to remember, to reflect on, and to heal from other tragedies that might befall us.”
The project added 12 boulders, jets, and granite benches to the pool at the park in memory of the 12 victims, and the plaza includes 248 pavers dedicated to survivors. A plaque sits at the entrance in memory of the taken, the survivors, and the first responders. Finally, a new oak tree was also added, grown by compost from the flowers left at the original, makeshift memorial.
“What’s remarkable about this city is that every step of the way you’ve cared. Four million dollars in donations, meals, thoughtful calls, service. The most seminal event in the history of this city, we never want to revisit, we never want that to happen again, but we’ll never forget,” Mayor Rob McCoy said.
2018 harbored some of the hardest moments Thousand Oaks has ever faced, and some of the most powerful times our community has come together with its supply of support and love. Now, at the anniversary of the event that made our small town known to the country for all the wrong reasons, we see that our community is as still unified as ever.
As the plaque at the Conejo Creek Park reads: “The strongest oaks have the deepest roots.”