Marine veteran Ian David Long opened fire at Borderline Bar & Grill last night, killing at least a dozen. The 28-year-old assailant then killed himself.
As victims and families grapple with their new reality, faith leaders have weighed in on the attack.
"Overall fitness, which is comprised of physical, psychological and spiritual components, is key to healing," says Lt. Col Damon Friedman, founder of SOF Missions. "We have made significant advancements in caring for our warriors with visible wounds, but we continue to lack in addressing the invisible wounds. In order to make advancements in overall fitness we must take a systematic and holistic approach. Spiritual fitness is key to addressing moral injury, reestablishing identity and helping the warrior along their path to wellness. The fact is, when it comes to spiritual fitness only God can heal certain wounds."
The shooting comes just weeks after Robert Bowers stormed into a Pittsburgh synagogue during Shabbat and killed 11.
Police are still determining a motive.
One day after the nation's divisive midterm elections, many people have turned to politics as an answer. But Christians know the violence runs much deeper than red or blue.
"Whenever these horrible shootings happen, we immediately pivot to issues like gun control and mental illness. Those discussions all have their place of course, but there is another factor at work, in fact the most significant factor of all—pure evil. According to the Bible, there really is a devil, there really is evil, and because of this people can be motivated to do unimaginable things, like a man walking into a bar and indiscriminately shooting people," says evangelist Greg Laurie.
"This is why America needs to pray. We need to pray for the protection of people wherever they are, synagogues, churches, malls, restaurants and wherever else they congregate. We must also acknowledge the courageous efforts of law enforcement and other first responders. Sgt. Ron Helus, a 29-year veteran of the Ventura County Sheriff's Department ran in when everyone else was running out. Tragically, he was shot and killed. Sgt. Helus was a true hero. Let's all continue to pray for the families of those who were killed. Their lives will be changed forever. They need to turn to the 'God of all comfort' in a time like."
Here's what other major faith leaders are saying.
Jentezen Franklin, senior pastor of Free Chapel:
Our thoughts and prayers go out to those fighting for their lives and the families of the victims of the senseless violence that took place last night in Thousand Oaks, California. There aren't laws that can stop a person committed to hurting other people, but it does add a sense of urgency for reaching all people with the message of hope and life change found in Jesus Christ.
Please join me in praying for peace and safety in our nation and for these precious families who have lost so much in this tragedy.
Rev. Dr. Samuel Rodriguez, president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference:
What truly horrific news to wake up to this morning, that 12 young people were brutally murdered on a Wednesday evening that should have been fun, youthful and carefree. I'm heartbroken for my fellow Californians, for the families that have lost loved ones, including first responder and hero, Sgt. Ron Helus of the Ventura County Sheriff's Department. May God comfort all those touched by yet another senseless tragedy.
Dr. Jamie Aten, founder and executive director of the Humanitarian Disaster Institute at Wheaton College (Illinois):
As a disaster psychologist, I see over and over again the significant mental, emotional and spiritual impact on the survivors—the loved ones, the community, the first responders—of mass shootings. Our research at Wheaton College's Humanitarian Disaster Institute shows that positive spiritual support from the church not only helps survivors respond to and process their trauma, it also helps them recover better over the long haul. It is important for our churches to demonstrate God's love for the hurting by continuing to pray fervently for those impacted by gun violence and being present with them in their pain.
This story will be updated throughout the day. Please check back for more information.
Jessilyn Justice @jessilynjustice is the director of online news for Charisma.
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