A Gunman Opened Fire. This Man Acted Quickly—And Saved Dozens of Lives.

Matt Wennerstrom wanted to protect as many as possible during the Borderline bar shooting.

Holden Harrah, left, hugs Matt Wennerstom, right, after the mass shooting at Borderline bar in Thousand Oaks, California.Al Seib/Los Angeles Times/Getty Images

Matt Wennerstrom was at a bar with his friends when a gunman started firing. First, the 20-year-old ushered people behind a pool table. Then, as the gunman reloaded, Wennerstrom threw a barstool through a window, creating a path of escape.

Thanks to Wennerstrom, dozens of people escaped from the gunman who killed 12 inside the country music bar in Thousand Oaks, California, the Washington Post reports. 

“We just stood there basically forcing as many people out as fast as we could until we cleared everyone out, and then we jumped out ourselves,” he told ABC News.

Even when he got outside, he herded the others away rather than simply sprinting to safety. Why?

He had known many of the other patrons for years—they were like family to him. “It’s not something where you just get out of there and fend for yourself,” Wennerstrom told CBS This Morning. “It’s ‘what can I do to protect as many of my friends as possible?'”

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  • A life-saving roundup. Volunteer cowboys in California have been working with first responders to save horses and other animals left behind by panicked owners after devastating wildfires. Jerry Kirk, who first started rescuing animals during the Carr Fire in August, has been handling requests to save horses, goats, and even llamas. On Saturday, he led a group with four horse trailers through Paradise, one of the towns ravaged by the fire. They found eight horses outside a ruined homestead. Kirk helped guide them into the trailers and out of danger. “You’re OK now,” he said to one brown foal, stroking it as it nuzzled him. (San Francisco Chronicle)
  • Justice, finally. Louisiana’s 1898 law allowed non-unanimous juries to convict people of felonies and even sentence them to life in prison. After a series of articles showing exactly how this Jim Crow-era law was used to disproportionately imprison black people, voters rose up and defeated it by a nearly 2-1 margin. Starting January 1, Louisiana will join 48 other states where only unanimous juries can convict people charged with a crime. (Poynter)
  • Spurned but victorious. Their member of Congress denigrated them. He wouldn’t even meet with them to hear their fears about Trump’s Muslim ban. So a group of Arab American women in Brooklyn decided they weren’t going to stand it any longer. They organized their community—and watched him get fired by his constituents on Election Night. (Mother Jones)
  • Notorious, indeed. A day after breaking three ribs, 85-year-old Ruth Bader Ginsburg was back at home—and working, according to a Supreme Court spokeswoman. The justice, nicknamed the Notorious RBG, confided that in 2012 she’d broken two ribs but took no time off, citing the high court’s heavy workload. (Washington Post)
  • She did it. As a girl in Afghanistan, she fled the Taliban. After becoming a US citizen, she decided to run for office at the age of 27. She knocked on doors while pregnant and campaigned on expanding Medicaid and educational opportunities. Last week, Safiya Wazir won the general election to serve in the New Hampshire legislature. (Boston Globe)
  • Quote of the week. Hopelessness is the enemy of justice.” From Bryan Stevenson, a public interest lawyer who has dedicated his career to helping the poor and the incarcerated.

Keep pushing, readers, and raising hell. See you next week! Have a Recharge story of your own or an idea to make this column better? Fill out the form below or send me a note to me at recharge@motherjones.com.