Borderline Bar And Grill attack survivor talks about coping with trauma as new memorial is dedicated on university campus
Survivors work to deal with difficult memories of attack.
Jessica Webb says it felt like the longest 90 seconds of her life.
The Cal State Channel Islands student was one of more than 250 people at the Borderline Bar and Grill on November 7, 2018 when an armed gunman went on a rampage.
"It was a very eerie mix of loud clashing, and you can hear the glass shattering, and people screaming." said Webb. "But then at moments, it would be dead silent, and you could only hear the gunshots."
Webb was just 18 at the time. The Thousand Oaks bar was filled with college students who were on hand for a country college night.
"We had just started to become regulars," said Webb. "I was standing on the side of the bar with the pool tables, and heard a pop, and didn't think anything of it. After two more pops, I turned my head, and saw the shooter walk through the door."
Webb was stunned as she realized what was happening.
"I completely froze. And, then I heard someone yell across the bar 'get down'. Later I found out that was the voice of Cody Coffman, one of the victims." said Webb. She hid under the pool table for about 90 seconds, and then worked her way to an alcove with some others before they all escaped out a door to safety.
12 people died as a result of the attack. Families and friends were devastated, and the community was in shock.
It also left the roughly 240 survivors, like Webb, traumatized.
"You absolutely cannot unsee what you saw, and you also can't unfeel what you feel," said Webb. "I was in therapy for a year, and had pretty bad PTSD effects...reoccurring nightmares, really bad migraines, flashbacks, as well as pretty bad stages of grief."
Because it was college night at the bar, among those on hand were students from Cal State Channel Islands, Cal Lutheran, Pepperdine, and Moorpark College. Webb says she bonded with some of the nearly 50 Cal State Channel Islands students who survived the ordeal.
When the Borderline reopened at a temporary location in Agoura Hills, she says she found comfort in dancing with fellow survivors.
Webb graduated from Cal State Channel Islands, and is now living in Boston, where she is in the AmeriCorps program. Motivated by her experience, she’s hoping to get a master’s degree, and become a social worker.
She also speaks to groups about the issue of gun violence.
Webb said she's better now, but notes that the thing that still gets to her is that mass shootings continue to happen. Citing the school shooting this week which left four dead, and seven wounded in Michigan, she said we as a country can do much more to stop these types of attacks.
There's a new memorial bench at Cal State Channel Islands for the victims, and survivors of the Borderline attack.
No Cal State Channel Islands students died in the attack, but nearly 50 lived through it. The campus just received a $250,000 state grant to expand its mental health services.