After Thousand Oaks Mass Shooting, Owner Unsure if Reopening Borderline Bar ‘Is Going to Feel Right’

Investigators work at the scene of a mass shooting at the Borderline Bar & Grill in Thousand Oaks, on Nov. 8, 2018. (Credit: Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images)

As Thousand Oaks comes to grips with the dual traumas of a deadly mass shooting and destructive wildfires, Brian Hynes will have to decide whether to reopen the Southern California bar where 12 people were killed.

The Borderline Bar & Grill, the kind of place that comforted and supported the community in times of distress, is closed after a Marine veteran opened fire there last week in what authorities called a “horrific scene” before he apparently took his own life.

Will the bar reopen? Hynes, the establishment’s owner, said he knows how he’ll come to a decision.

“With what Borderline is to … my community, I don’t know if (reopening) is going to feel right. But once I stand inside that building, it’s going to be like going to my childhood home, and I’ll know. I’ll know then,” he told CNN’s Brooke Baldwin on Monday afternoon.

“There’s no way I’m not going to reopen out of fear or anything like that. If it works, we will definitely reopen, but right now … with the fires going on in our same community … I’m trying to get people back in their home beds, with their pets and their families.”

Firefighters raced from the bar to battle flames

Borderline, a Western-themed establishment known for holding country, salsa and swing dancing nights regularly, was hosting college country night and line dancing when the shooting happened late November 7.

A day after the shooting, two wildfires started on either side of Thousand Oaks, forcing many in the area to evacuate. Firefighters who had raced to the bar to save lives after the shooting sped off hours later to battle the flames.

The bar had been a place of comfort for some survivors of last year’s massacre in Las Vegas when a gunman killed 58 people and injured more than 500 at the Route 91 Harvest country music festival — the deadliest mass shooting in recent US history.

A few Las Vegas survivors were at Borderline during last week’s shooting, including 27-year-old Telemachus Orfanos, who was killed at the bar.

“The Borderline has been there for 25 years. I’ve been going there for 24 of those years, and I’ve owned it for 10,” Hynes said. “And when something happens in this community, that’s where we go.

“Fundraisers, everything, is always done there. And that place was our place of safety and our place of comfort in these rough times.”

Hynes, who lives down the street, wasn’t there when the shooting happened, but he headed there that night as soon as he heard. The shooting was still going on when he arrived, he said.

“We just don’t know what to do, and obviously, we’re trying to come together,” he said. “We’re so sorry for the families of our patrons and the employees, and just everybody who was injured.”