One of the 12 people murdered in a mass shooting inside a bar in Thousand Oaks, California Wednesday night was a Marine veteran who worked full-time helping other vets find community.
Leaders of the veterans support organization Team Red White and Blue confirmed that Dan Manrique, a full-time staff member was among those who perished in the horrific shooting. Task and Purpose first reported that Manrique was among those killed.
"We are heartbroken to confirm that Dan Manrique, Pacific Regional Program Manager for Team RWB and Marine Corps veteran, was one of the victims of the Borderline shooting in Thousand Oaks last night," the organization announced in a statement. "Dan's life was dedicated to serving others, during his military career and beyond. We at Team RWB are keeping all those impacted by this tragedy in our thoughts and prayers."
According to Manrique's official biography, he served in the Marines as a radio operator with 2nd Combat Engineer Battalion, 2nd Marine Division, out of Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. In 2007, he deployed to regions in the Middle East with the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit.
Team RWB is focused on helping veterans regain community following their military service through physical and social activity.
Bana Miller, the public relations director for the organization, told Military.com that Manrique had become connected with the ground in 2012 and had become a chapter captain for Ventura County, California in 2014.
"He found the same sense of connection there that many of our Eagles do," Miller said, using the organization's name for its members. "His life was really dedicated to serving others."
Miller said amid the shock and grief, plans were already taking shape for the group to memorialize Manrique.
"We are going to be sharing that information on our website and focusing on making sure that Eagle nation comes together in a compassionate way that leads to individual and community healing," she said. "And we're going to be honoring Dan's memory."
Currently, the Team RWB website features an "In Memoriam" section about Manrique, with an address where those who wish to do so can send condolences to the family.
According to media reports, at least one other Marine in the Borderline Bar and Grill that night survived the shooting. Brendan Kelly, who had previously survived the deadly 2017 mass shooting in Las Vegas, escaped Wednesday night uninjured, helping other people find cover in the chaos, local channel ABC7 Chicago reported.
It came to light Thursday that the shooter himself, Ian David Long, who took his own life after the rampage, was also a Marine veteran. According to military records provided by the Marine Corps, Long was a machine gunner who reached the rank of corporal and deployed once to Afghanistan.
In a message shared on Twitter Thursday, Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Robert Neller sent a clear message that Long had no claim to the honorable title of Marine any longer.
"Heartfelt condolences to those suffering from the tragic & senseless act of violence #ThousandOaks," he said. "That ex-Marine's despicable actions run counter to what the vast majority of veterans are rightfully known for: serving w/ honor then making positive contributions to society."
-- Hope Hodge Seck can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at @HopeSeck.