The Thousand Oaks shooter’s former track coach says he assaulted her when he was a teen: “It’s not PTSD”

After the November 7th mass shooting in Thousand Oaks, California killed 12 people, Americans are once again grappling with the question of how to prevent similar tragedies. As more details of the shooting emerge, many news outlets have reported that the gunman, Ian David Long, showed signs he was capable of violence before the shooting. Now, the Thousand Oaks shooter’s former high school track coach, Dominique Colell, has come forward with allegations that he once assaulted her.

Colell, who coached at Newbury Park High School in California when Long was a student, told CBSLA that he attacked her at practice during his senior year. She said the incident happened when she found a lost cell phone and was attempting to figure out who owned it.

"Ian came up and started screaming at me that was his phone, Colell told the news station. “He just started grabbing me. He groped my stomach. He groped my butt. I pushed him off me and said after that—'you’re off the team.'"

But Colell told the Los Angeles Times that after the 2008 incident, Long complained about her to another coach, who cast doubt on her actions. She later tried to tell an administrator what happened, but was told that she was “too young and good-looking to be taken seriously.” Colell recalled that other coaches and administrators pressured her to accept Long’s apology and let him back on the team because the incident might reflect poorly on his Marine Corps application. Eventually, she did.

Long has been rumored to suffer from PTSD, but Colell told CBSLA that she believes he exhibited aggressive behavior long before he entered the military.

"There are hundreds of thousands of people with PTSD," she said. "They don’t go around shooting people. This kid was mentally disturbed in high school. There were signs and the administration knew it."

There is some evidence that perpetrators exhibit warning signs before committing a mass shooting. An FBI study that examined mass shootings in the U.S. between 2000 and 2013 found that 56% of shooters exhibited concerning behaviors, such as excessive anger or physical aggression, more than two years before committing a massacre.

The Thousand Oaks shooting is yet another heartbreaking, unnecessary tragedy. If you’re feeling helpless, you can find a list of gun-control organizations to donate to here. It might seem small, but every bit helps.

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