At least 12 people have been killed, including a sheriff’s sergeant, following a shooting inside a bar packed with college students in southern California, according to the Ventura County sheriff’s office.
Ventura County Sheriff Geoff Dean said on Thursday that 10 other people were also wounded following the incident late on Wednesday at Borderline Bar & Grill in Thousand Oaks, about 50km west of Los Angeles.
“It’s a horrific scene in there. There is blood everywhere,” Dean said, describing the scene inside the bar.
The officer killed was identified as Sargeant Ron Helus, who is been with the force for 29 years.
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“Ron was a hardworking, dedicated Sheriff’s sergeant. He was totally committed. He gave his all, and tonight, as I told his wife, he died a hero. He went in to save lives, to save other people,” Dean said.
The gunman, who has not yet been identified, died inside the bar.
Ventura County Sheriff’s Office Captain Garo Kuredjian said the first reports of shots fired came around 11:20pm on Wednesday from the bar.
The bar’s website says it hosts “College Country Night” every Wednesday. Police said hundreds were inside when the shooting occurred.
Al Jazeera’s Rob Reynolds, reporting from Washington, DC, said the bar was packed with college students before the gunman forced his way in.
“The gunman used an automatic weapon and also threw in some sort of smoke bombs into the crowd in the club,” he said.
Police had told the Los Angeles Times that at least 30 shots were fired.
An unnamed source told reporters that a victim managed to escape through the window of the bar.
“He told us how he broke a couple of windows, and him and his friends helped push women out to save them first. His hand was cut up and he has blood on his face. His friend was shot in the shoulder,” the witness said.
The extent of the other victims’ injuries has not yet been released.
Law enforcement and emergency crews were still at the shooting scene as of Thursday morning.
|People comfort each other as they stand near the scene in Thousand Oaks, California [Mark J. Terrill/AP Photo]