Thousand Oaks remembers, Borderline family pays tribute to fallen friends


Sgt. Pat Ruby salutes during the singing of the national anthem at the dedication for the new Healing Garden in Thousand Oaks on Nov. 7. Hundreds of community members gathered to pay respects to the lost souls. Photo credit: Ryan Bough

By Whitney Bussell

On Nov. 7, 2018 a mass shooting occurred in what was, and is still known as, one of the safest cities in America.

Thousand Oaks, a small town community of only 130,000 people, suffered through a nightmare as 12 members of the community were gunned down at random at the Borderline Bar and Grill, a favorite college hang out. Just as the community attempted to rally for one another, over 600,000 people were evacuated in Ventura County within hours of the shooting as the Hill and Woolsey Fires broke out.

Hundreds of people gather to witness the dedication of the new Healing Garden in Thousand Oaks on Thursday, Nov. 7. The Healing Garden honors the survivors and victims of the Borderline tragedy. Photo credit: Ryan Bough

One year later the Thousand Oaks community has not forgotten the lives it lost. The memorial in front of Borderline’s boarded up doors still stands and on the anniversary of the tragedy, the Healing Garden was unveiled at Conejo Creek Park North.

Ventura County Sheriff’s Chief of Police, Tim Hagel choked up as he shared moving words with the crowd, “One year ago and every day since this community has shown the world that it will not be defined by the violence inflicted upon it, but rather by the comfort, the support and the love that this community has given to those touched by the devastation and loss of last November 7th.”

Thousand Oaks Chief of Police, Commander Tim Hagel grieves after the dedication of the new Healing Garden in Thousand Oaks, on Thursday, Nov. 7. The Healing Garden is to honor the victims and the survivors of the Borderline shooting in 2018. Photo credit: Ryan Bough

The park, adjacent to the Thousand Oaks Library, was renovated to include 12 granite benches, 12 granite boulders and 12 bubbling water jets to commemorate the 12 souls lost that night.

The Healing Garden was opened to the public and at 3:30 p.m. a dedication ceremony took place, something that wasn’t able to happen one year ago due to the outrage of fires. Members of the community sang, community leaders spoke and the families of the 12 lost read the names aloud.

This day was dedicated to the healing of those affected by the tragedy that ensued last November. Ventura County Sheriff’s PIO, Eric Buschow has been actively involved with the 12 families for the last year and touched on what this meant for them.

“Things like this are therapeutic for them, they come to it and they feel that sense of support and love, and we all need that,” shared Buschow. “Especially something of this magnitude, and initially when this first happened we didn’t have a chance to do that.”

The unveiling of the Healing Garden wasn’t the only memorial that took place. Later that evening, survivors and community members went to Borderline, mourning in their own ways. Many enjoyed the large tailgate party that included Borderline’s famous line dancing, while others went directly to the front door memorial to pay tribute to the lives of those lost.

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Richard Ador Dionisio leads line dancing during the tailgate following the Borderline shooting one-year anniversary on Thursday, Nov. 7. Ador Dionisio led dances at the bar and grill before the tragedy, and was present when the shooting started. Photo credit: Evan Reinhardt

Savannah Horvath and Colby Kaliscky honored their lost friends by drinking the same beer Telemachus Orfanos did his last night.

As they cheered their beers and reminisced on all of the old memories with friends Orfanos, Justin Meek and Kristina Morsiette, both were able to recall and share numerous stories of the bar that was like a second home to them.

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Savannah Horvath clinks beers with her friend Colby Kaliscky in memory of their lost companion, Justin Meek. Horvath and Kaliscky paid their respects to the multiple friends they lost, during the Borderline shooting anniversary memorial on Thursday, Nov. 7, in Thousand Oaks. Photo credit: Evan Reinhardt

Horvath smiled as she reflected on the prior year, “I think my most memorable part of healing is when people ask me about my friends and I can remember all the stories,” expressed Horvath. “I can tell people with the utmost respect and dignity that they were the life of the party.”

Both Horvath and Kaliscky went on to explain the love that enveloped Borderline.

“You were family and you were a part of us the second you walked through those doors,”Kaliscky said with a smile.

Kaliscky works as a promoter for Borderline and had spent most nights at the bar getting to know everyone who entered it’s doors.

She helps to keep the Borderline family together by planning events around town, many of which are hosted at the Canyon Club. She wistfully recalled, “nothing compared to those four walls.”

Although tragedy took the lives and homes for many in the community, it was not able to tear a part this family, and in fact, only strengthened the bond that they shared.

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A sign that reads "Borderline Strong" hangs on the now closed bar and grill location in Thousand Oaks. A memorial was held on the one year anniversary of the tragedy, Thursday, Nov. 7. Photo credit: Evan Reinhardt

Moorpark College students Amanda Collett and Emily Katz came to show their respects. The two of them often attended college nights at Borderline but had a volleyball game that night.

They had nothing but fond memories of Borderline, “You always met one person and you went home with a friend,” stated Collett.

Nothing compares to the piece of their family they lost that night and the place they called home, but Borderline isn’t just a bar anymore, it’s a community of people with a close-knit family bond.