‘Give Your Dad a Call' Went Out on Live TV. But the Phone Never Rang

Jason Coffman pleaded on live television for his son Cody, who had gone to the Borderline Bar & Grill, to call him after word of a mass shooting came. Then Jason learned his son's fate.

Some might recognize Jason Coffman as the first face to emerge of a grief-wracked family member, first searching for his son, then announcing to the public on live television that he was indeed shot and killed in the Borderline Bar mass shooting in Thousand Oaks.

After his son's friends came banging on his door to tell him they got out of the bar when the bullets started to fly but got separated from Jason's son, Jason went to find Cody Coffman and NBCLA tried to help.

At 4 a.m., Jason appeared on live TV, making a plea to his eldest son:

"Give your dad a call. Give your dad a call. Give your dad a call."

The phone never rang.

Hours later, Jason was back live on NBC4, delivering the message that 22-year-old Cody was one of the 12 murdered. 

Now, one year later, the Coffman family finds solace at a community garden in their hometown of Camarillo, dedicated to Cody, at the Perez Family Funeral home.

"We're still grieving," Jason said. "There's a lot of people who haven't come to cope it with it yet. Then there's people like myself who have come to realize this is life now. This is the way it's got to be." 

Jason, along with his family, returned to the Borderline Memorial outside the now vacant bar and grill.

"It's a tough spot to be at but it is a calming spot because I can talk to him. I know that he's here. I've been going the whole year, 'Did I do it right? Have I made you proud son?' because I am so proud of this guy right here," Jason said, pointing to a picture of Cody posted among the victims along the sidewalk at the memorial. 

On Nov. 6, 2018, Jason said goodbye to his son as he left their Camarillo home in his cowboy boots and hat to head to Borderline Bar & Grill. "He loved country music, he loved line dancing." 

Jason remembers telling him, "'Don't drink and drive, son. I'll come and get you. And I love ya.' 'I love you too, Dad.' And that was it — my last words." 

Jason has since learned his son was not just a victim.

"My son was a hero," he said.

Cody planned to join the Army and his father believes his final act was to serve and protect. He recounts what survivors have told him.

"He screamed, 'Run, run!'" Jason said. "He had a lot of people in front of him. He was a big guy. He went to stop the man who was causing harm."

But he also said he's been battling something. 

He made a plea on camera, directed to the mother of the gunman who killed his son Cody. 

"Mrs. Long, if you're watching this I want to meet you and I want to give you a hug," he said. "That's something that I've been dealing with for a long time. That for her to know that I don't hate her. I have no ill will towards her."

Three weeks to the day after Cody died, his sister was born. When Jason speaks of Aurora Coffman and the brother she will never meet, the tears flow.

"Cody was so happy. He was so happy to be a brother to a sister. Never had a sister, so he was so happy. To be cut short three weeks before he got to hold her or cut short to meet her, that's where I become mad," Jason said.

Unlike other families, Jason has not been inside Borderline Bar & Grill and reveals he will only enter if and when the music plays again.

"This is a place of happiness. This is a place of joy. Why make one evil night kill the whole vibe forever?" he said. "Let me go back in here when the doors are open and the place is cranking and I can feel him." 

As darkness falls and with Aurora in his arms, Cody's two young brothers plus his wife by his side, Jason walks them to the edge of the Borderline parking lot. It is there, where he shows them, for the first time, a large oak tree now lit nightly to honor the twelve who died a year ago. It is another place to find comfort, another place to keep Cody close.

See more coverage of the anniversary of the Borderline Bar & Grill tragedy here.

Contact Us