12 Victims of Thousand Oaks Mass Shooting Were Full of Hope, Dreams and Heroism

Victims of the Borderline mass shooting in Thousand Oaks, California, late Wednesday.via Facebook

A father’s desperate search for his son ended in crushing heartbreak in Thousand Oaks on Thursday.

“I’ve been here fighting for him all morning long, and we did just get the news that he was one of the [12] that were killed last night,” the man, Jason Coffman, told reporters, choking back tears. “His name was Cody Coffman, my first-born son.”

“Only him and I know home much I love … how much I miss, miss him,” Coffman said, holding his fist to his heart as he struggled to speak. “Oh, son! I love you so much.”

Cody Coffman, 22, a youth baseball coach who’d planned to join the Army, according to his dad, was one of the dozen people who were slain when a gunman opened fire inside Borderline Bar and Grill.

Justin Meek, 23, an alumnus of California Lutheran University, was killed, as well. The university said he “heroically saved lives in the incident.”

Cal Lutheran students said witnesses told them that Meek jumped in front of his sister and others to shield them.

“Everything he did was really brave,” said Meek’s friend Lala Lyman, who wasn’t at the bar. “It was heroic. We lost someone truly great.”

“Cal Lutheran wraps its arms around the Meek family and other families, and around every member of this community of caring,” the university said on its website.

Meek graduated from Cal Lutheran in May — as did his mother, friends told NBC News.

Meek enjoyed the country-themed Borderline because he loved line dancing, pals said — he’d even founded Cal Lutheran’s line dancing club. He’d promoted Wednesday’s “College Country Night” event on his Instagram page.

Sean Adler, 48, a married father of two, was working at Borderline to make extra money, his sister Valarie Adler told NBC Los Angeles.

“From what I understand, Sean tried to disarm” the shooter, Adler said. “That is typical of Sean. He was a protector, always sticking up for people. He was a caring, compassionate individual. I just don’t understand. I don’t understand the world.”

Also gunned down while trying to save lives was Sgt. Ron Helus, a 29-year veteran of the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department.

Helus, 54, was married with a son. He called his wife just before he went into the bar, where he was killed in a shootout with the gunman.

“I gotta go. I love you, I’ll call you later,” his boss, Sheriff Geoff Dean, quoted him as saying.

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SOURCE: NBC News, James Rainey and Dareh Gregorian