The families of 12 people, including a San Diego man, who died in a shooting at a Thousand Oaks bar found some solace Thursday in an aptly named memorial park dedicated to their loved ones just miles from where a gunman opened fire one year ago.
On Nov. 7, 2018, the lives of a dozen people were taken, including that of 23-year-old Coronado High School graduate Justin Meek, when a 28-year-old Marine veteran walked into the popular country bar on an 18-and-up "College Country Night" and threw smoke grenades before opening fire.
The Healing Garden was dedicated on the one-year anniversary of the tragic Borderline Bar & Grill shooting, first in a private ceremony for Meek's family and the families of the 11 others who died that day -- a Ventura County sheriff's deputy, military veterans and young high school and college students.
Many more of the about 250 bar-goers were wounded. After the private ceremony for families, the survivors were invited to visit the memorial before it opened to the public.
The garden, located in Conejo Creek North Park, surrounds a pond that has a fountain with 12 vertical water jets to honor those killed.
There are also 12 granite slab benches, and a paving stone for each survivor. Oaks screen the garden from the rest of the park.
In the weeks following the Borderline shooting, Coronado residents held memorial services to offer each other support as they tried to try to cope with the loss of their friend.
A 2014 graduate of Coronado High School, Meek was described as an active member of the community and an avid Coronado "Islander," the school's mascot.
Meek's former teacher Casey Tanaka described him as genuine and someone who was always willing to put himself out there to put a smile on others' faces.
"The only solace for me is that he impacted so many lives in such a positive way. I can't think of any other 23-year-old who has done that. Who has been so selfless in the terms of just bringing friendship and joy to others," Tanaka said.
Meek moved to Thousand Oaks, California, to attend California Lutheran University where he majored in criminal justice with a minor in music. There, he was a member of the water polo and hockey teams, Italian and Republican clubs and founding president of the Cal Lutheran Line Dance Club. He was also a member of the choir.
Meek’s obituary said he had plans to join the U.S. Coast Guard and then become a U.S. Marshal.
“Justin had a very strong interest in the safety of others since the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11. Justin wanted to be a part of the solution, to serve, to protect,” the obituary stated.
As he followed his path, the young man had been working in the private security sector and interning with a company that provided security to bars and clubs in the greater Thousand Oaks area.
Meek was described by his family as a “genuine, kind, loving, caring, compassionate, hardworking, talented man and a friend to everyone he met.
He is survived by his parents, Laura Lynn Meek and Capt. Roger L. Meek, his sister, Victoria Rose Meek, and many other loved ones.
The Borderline, a longtime institution in the city, has remained closed.
"Not a day goes by that we do not think about our friends and family who we have lost," said a note posted on its website Thursday. "This past year has been extremely difficult for all of us as a community, but together we have helped each other move forward and continue our healing process one day at a time."