Borderline shooting: Family remembers son Telemachus Orfanos on 1-year anniversary

Wednesday, November 6, 2019
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The parents of Telemachus Orfanos share memories of their son on the one year anniversary of the Borderline shooting.

THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. (KABC) -- In the Orfanos home, all around, there are signs of Telemachus Orfanos.

"The word that we often use is surreal because... you still kind of expect him to walk through the door. It was seven months before we could even touch the clothes in his bedroom," said father Marc Orfanos.

Photos and memories of the Thousand Oaks native prove a life well lived. But with photos, parents Marc and Susan Orfanos say there's also pain, for what could have been.

"Tel was 27 years old. I don't know that he had a legacy. He was a good man and he did his best that night. But he was too young to leave a legacy," said mother Susan Orfanos.

As a young boy, Tel, as his family lovingly calls him, was wise beyond his years. It's that wisdom, that would define his life.

"When he was a Boy Scout, when you're trying to Eagle Scout, there's all kinds of hoops you have to jump through to accomplish that, and then you have to write, an essay, almost a dissertation, he wrote - I want to mean something to someone besides myself," said Marc.

Borderline shooting timeline: How the tragedy unfolded

Years later, Tel was one of a dozen people killed at the Borderline Bar and Grill. He was murdered one year after surviving the Las Vegas shooting massacre.

"He was there when all the shooting started and there was so much carnage they didn't have enough paramedics to go around so he and several other people that he randomly met started pulling bloodied people off the concert grounds. He was traumatized by that. He saw things no one should ever see," Marc recalled.

"He got lost somewhere in there. He wasn't our Tel. And through almost a year, he was coming back. He was not angry as much. He was happier," said Susan. "I often think of the families from Sandy Hook. I'm sure they thought, this is it. This is the line that will not be crossed. And it wasn't and you naively think, surely this must be it. Surely this is the line that can't be crossed. And it gets crossed."

The day after her oldest son was killed, Susan would unintentionally become a gun control activist. In an interview with ABC7, she declared, "No more guns!" That interview would result in harassment and death threats.

"When I was in my rage, in my shock, in my pain, I said I want gun control. Within two hours we got messages on my phone," Susan said. "The majority were supportive. But there were those people that threatened us. 'You will not take my gun, boom boom.'"

The Orfanos family says they are now outspoken about gun violence, and travel the country to attend rallies in honor of their son.

Before Tel's death, Susan remembers one of the few conversations she had with her son about Las Vegas.

"One thing he told me, 'You know you always wonder, do you run or do you go back?' And he said, 'At least now I know.' So when we went looking for him that night, everybody kept saying, 'We've seen him. He was outside.'"

According to eyewitnesses that night, Tel initially made it out of the bar. But one of his friends was still inside. Tel would be the only one to die from not just a shooting, but also a stab wound to the neck.

His parents believe he went back in and tried to stop the shooter, carrying out a vow he wrote to himself years before as a boy, to mean something to someone besides himself.