THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. (Reuters) – Alicia Wagner says she moved her household six years in the past from the prosperous Los Angeles-area enclave of Pacific Palisades to the sleepier and extra distant Thousand Oaks, within the Santa Monica Mountains, away from city hustle and bustle.
Mourners react outdoors a reception middle for households of victims of a mass taking pictures in Thousand Oaks, California, U.S. November 8, 2018. REUTERS/Eric Thayer
“We needed a quieter, extra peaceable life-style,” mentioned Wagner 46, a photograph archivist who shares a spacious, two-story residence together with her husband, Steve Vincent, 55, a Walt Disney Co govt, their 5 kids and two giant canine within the Westlake Village neighborhood.
Thousand Oaks, identified to locals as “T.O.” and named for the abundance of timber that dot the sprawling metropolis of 127,000 folks within the foothills of the Conejo Valley, has lengthy been touted as one of many lowest-crime municipalities of its measurement in America.
It was named the third-safest metropolis in the USA this yr by Area of interest, an actual property analysis agency that ranks communities by college high quality, earnings, crime and different components.
That status was shattered late Wednesday evening when a gunman recognized by authorities as a Marine fight veteran opened hearth in a crowded nightclub, the Borderline Bar and Grill, killing 12 folks. He was later discovered useless inside, apparently from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
“This isn’t a spot anybody would ever anticipate something like this to ever occur,” Wagner advised Reuters.
That was echoed by Ari Alexenburg, 39, who was ready for phrase on the destiny of his pal and fellow safety guard, who he mentioned was believed to have been working on the Borderline on the time of the taking pictures.
“You’re within the most secure neighborhood in America,” Alexenburg mentioned. “Nothing, I imply nothing, ever occurs in T.O.”
Positioned about 40 miles northwest of downtown Los Angeles, Thousand Oaks occupies about 55 sq. miles of rolling hills on the alternative aspect of the Santa Monica Mountains from Malibu, together with greater than 15,000 acres of publicly owned parks and open area.
The largely residential space consists of quaint, bed room communities, golf programs, winding, tree-lined roads and upscale procuring strips. For motorists who journey Freeway 101 between Los Angeles and factors north, Thousand Oaks is a pass-through neighborhood of little word.
However the mountain and foothill landscapes surrounding the Conejo Valley provide loads of area for hikers and out of doors lovers, in addition to scenic vistas which have served as backdrops for varied Hollywood films through the years.
Initially inhabited by the Chumash Native Individuals who dwelled within the Conejo Valley, the world was first settled by the Spanish within the early 1800s, with pioneers migrating into the world all through the 19th century.
The primary submit workplace within the space was inbuilt 1875, and a small outpost there grew to become a cease on the stagecoach route between Los Angeles and San Francisco, in response to the town of Thousand Oaks’ web site.
Hen ranches, dairy farms and apricot orchards that dotted the valley into the early 20th century gave solution to larger improvement after the town was integrated within the 1960s.
Wednesday evening’s bloodshed marked a tragic new chapter within the metropolis’s historical past that has upended any notion that its residents are in some way immune from mindless violence, Metropolis Councilman Rob McCoy mentioned at a information convention.
“It will probably occur anyplace,” he mentioned. “This was simply an terrible occasion. The residents of our neighborhood are devastated. We’re heartbroken.”
Reporting by Dana Feldman; Further reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis; Writing by Steve Gorman; Enhancing by Leslie Adler