California shooting: Gunman kills 12 in bar packed with college students

California shooting: Gunman kills 12 in bar packed with college students

Rolling Oaks shooting
Emergency vehicles parked near the Borderline Bar and Grill in the town of Thousand Oaks, Los Angeles. (Photo: Twitter/Steinwender)

WASHINGTON: At least 12 people, including a police sergeant, were killed after a gunman opened fire in a crowded country music bar in the Los Angeles area on Wednesday (Nov 7) night.

The shooting took place as the Borderline Bar and Grill, in the suburb of Thousand Oaks, was hosting an event for college students.

Ventura Country Sheriff Geoff Dean later identified the shooter as Ian Long, a 28-year-old ex-marine who had "minor run-ins with law enforcement" in recent years. 

Long was found dead inside the bar and likely shot himself, Dean said.

"It's a horrific scene in there. There is blood everywhere," he said.

According to Ventura Country Sheriff's department, a Glock .45-caliber handgun was the only weapon used during the shooting.

Long also appeared to have shot at random inside the club.

There is no known motive for the mass shooting, Dean added. 

"Nothing has led me or the FBI to believe there is a terrorism link here. We certainly will look at that option," he said.

The dead police officer, Ron Helus, had been in the force for 29 years and was among the first on the scene.

"They found 11 victims that had been killed," said Dean of the first response unit, adding that the death of Helus brought the toll to 12, excluding the gunman.

Speaking at a press conference, a Ventura Country sheriff said that around a dozen other people had been injured.

It was the second mass shooting in America in less than two weeks.

Possibly several hundred people were in the Borderline Bar and Grill when the shooting erupted.

Ventura County Star said that at least four ambulances were at the scene to treat the victims.

AT LEAST 30 SHOTS WERE FIRED: EYEWITNESS

The incident took place in the town of Thousand Oaks, a quiet, upscale residential suburb of Los Angeles.

"Firefighters and first responders are arriving on scene of a report of a shooting at an establishment in @CityofTO. PD is working to secure scene. Multiple injuries reported," the Ventura County Fire Department tweeted.

The Los Angeles Times quoted a law enforcement official as saying at least 30 shots had been fired and that there were casualties.

An unnamed witness told the newspaper that someone ran into the bar at around 11.30pm local time (3.30pm Singapore time) and started shooting with what looked to be a black pistol.

"He shot a lot, at least 30 times. I could still hear gunshots after everyone left," the Times quoted the man as saying.

Witnesses told CNN the attacker had a large handgun, wore a black trench coat and glasses, and threw smoke grenades inside the bar.

TV footage showed SWAT teams surrounding the bar, with distraught revelers milling around and using their cell phones, as lights from police cars flashed.

Map of California locating shooting at a bar in Thousand Oaks
Map of California locating shooting at a bar in Thousand Oaks. (Graphic: AFP/Gal Roma)

Holden Harrah, a young man who saw the incident, cried as he told CNN how a place he goes to every week with friends had been a scene of carnage.

"A gentleman walked in the front door and shot the girl that was behind the counter. I don't know if she is alive," he said.

Matt Wennerstron, a 20-year-old college student and regular at the bar, said the shooter fired a short-barreled pistol that apparently had a 10- to 15-round magazine.

"It was just semi-automatic, as many shots as he could pull, and then when it started to reload that's when we got people out of there and I didn't look back."

He said he and others smashed their way out of the bar onto a balcony and then jumped down to safety. "One bar stool and straight through a window," he told reporters.

Jasmin Alexander, who was part of a group of around 15 friends at the bar, said there was chaos and confusion inside when the shots first rang out.

"It was a normal Wednesday. We were just at the bar, having fun, dancing," she told reporters after escaping the shooting.

"All of a sudden we heard the 'bang, bang' of the gunshots and it just started going crazy and people were pushing.

"We thought it was a joke, we didn't take it seriously at first ... because it sounded like fire crackers and everyone just dropped down to the floor."

"GREAT BRAVERY SHOWN BY POLICE": US PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP

US President Donald Trump said on Twitter that he had "been fully briefed on the terrible shooting".

"Law Enforcement and First Responders, together with the FBI, are on scene. 13 people, at this time, have been reported dead. Likewise, the shooter is dead, along with the first police officer to enter the bar", he wrote.

It was the latest chapter in America's epidemic of gun violence and came only 10 days after a gunman killed 11 worshipers at a synagogue in Pittsburgh.

Last year a country music festival called Route 91 in Las Vegas was the scene of the worst mass shooting in modern US history. A gunman shooting from the 32nd floor of a hotel and casino with high power weapons killed 58 people.

Source: Agencies/zl(ra)

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