A Place to Honor the Borderline Victims


Contributed by Thousand Oaks City Council

The garden will be featured in the Conejo Creek North Park to “provide a place for contemplation, meditation and prayer.”

Kaitlin Rodriguez, Reporter

“A place to pause, reflect and heal.” That was the inspiration for the new Healing Garden dedicated to the 12 victims of the shooting at Borderline Bar & Grill on Nov. 7, 2018 to provide the community with a place to reflect on the event and the lives lost.

The memorial design was released in June at the Thousand Oaks City Council meeting. According to Conejo Recreation and Park District, the  garden will be constructed in the Conejo Creek North Park to “provide a place for contemplation, meditation and prayer.” The garden plans to honor the 12 victims with different nature elements. A fountain with 12 water jets will represent the greater community. Twelve natural granite stone benches will represent strength. Twelve natural granite boulders will represent the lives lost.

According to the Ventura County Star, the park district is aiming for the garden to be complete by the one year anniversary. On September 10, Senior Park Planner Andrew Mooney announced that construction for the Healing Garden had begun.

Mayor Rob McCoy said he understands how important a place dedicated to the tragedy is to the community, and has ensured that construction is expedited.

“We wanted to have a memorial park by the anniversary date because, as a city, we really didn’t have time to mourn because the fires hit immediately after the shooting,” McCoy said. “We wanted to remember that day, never forget it and hope it never happens again.”

With the one-year anniversary approaching, some students felt anxious about coming back to school this fall. Shannon Martin, who is a survivor of Borderline, said she found it difficult to return to campus.

“It’s been an adjustment, I’m not going to lie,” Martin said. “It was nice being home; not everyone knew what was going on. But coming back was like jumping back into a pool of feelings.”

For many California Lutheran University students and staff, the Borderline shooting took an emotional toll. The experience has stayed with Martin ever since.

“My friend summed it up great; he told me I’ve been living the same 90 seconds in my brain every day since and that’s pretty accurate,” she said. “To have a space where we can mourn, where I don’t have to go back to the location where it happened, will be nice. Not just to mourn the loss of life, but for all of us there’s a loss of safety, a loss of security.” 

Sophomore Thomas Gitnick is optimistic for the opening of the garden.

“I think it’s a great place for people to go and grieve,” Gitnick said. “It took a huge toll on our community and this is really our first step towards healing and moving forward.”

Mayor McCoy said he hopes the survivors and students at Cal Lutheran will find peace in the Healing Garden.

“We want it to be a place where they will find healing and strength. They get to live, live fully. Make the most of it,” McCoy said.