Sean Adler, 48, who had served as a coach of the wrestling program at Royal High School in Simi Valley, Calif. but had recently opened his own coffee house in Thousand Oaks, was working as a bouncer at the Borderline Bar and Grill when he was shot by a gunman at approximately 11:30 p.m. Pacific time Wednesday.
“Please keep Sean Adler’s family in your thoughts and prayers,” read a post on the Royal Wrestling Facebook page. “Sean was our strength coach a few years back. He was transitioning careers and still made time for our team. He travelled with us through some of the roughest times we had as a program. He was positive, motivational, and truly wanted the best for the people around him. He was one of the victims last night at the shooting at Borderline Bar and Grill where he worked as a bouncer. Thank you Sean for your help and most of all your friendship. RIP.
The San Bernardino Sun reported that Adler had just opened his Rivalry Roasters coffee house three weeks ago, and was still working as a security guard and bouncer at the Borderline, a nearby country-western bar and restaurant located in a suburb about 40 miles northwest of downtown Los Angeles, to help pay bills for his new business venture.
Sean Adler’s sister Valerie told NBC News that on Wednesday night, as a gunman opened fire on the crowded bar, the former coach attempted to disarm him.
“It’s absolutely the kind of thing he would do,” Danny Evans, a childhood friend, told the Sun. “He just loved people.”
“He gave his all, to whatever it was he did,” added Mike Nolan, a friend whom Adler met through the Simi Valley Chamber of Commerce. “He worked his butt off. He did everything he could to make this shop a reality.”
Danny Evans, one of Mr. Adler’s childhood best friends, said that although he had not spoken to Adler recently, he recalled that in high school, his friend “was the guy we all wanted to be: handsome, athletic and kind.”
“When we were younger, I was an awkward kid,” Evans told the New York Times. “I got picked on.”
“And Sean was my protector,” he continued, choking back tears. “He stood up for me, and he showed me the kind of kindnesses I didn’t get from other people. I needed that so badly at that time.”
“I’m so proud to have been his friend,” he added. “It’s devastating that he’s gone.”
A vigil was planned for Friday night at Adler’s Rivalry Roasters. Funeral arrangements have yet to be made public.
Sean Adler is at least the third victim of a mass shooting in the past 18 months with a school coaching background. In February 2017, Chris Hixon, mat coach and athletic director at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., was among 17 individuals killed. Six months later, Bill Wolfe Jr. — an elementary school wrestling coach in Pennsylvania — was among 59 killed by a sniper at an outdoor country music concert in Las Vegas.