THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. (KTLA) — At least 12 people, including a sheriff’s deputy, were shot and killed in a mass shooting at a California bar, and at least 20 more were injured.
The man was identified as Ian David Long, a 28-year-old United States Marine Corps veterane who lived in Newbury park, according to Ventura County Sheriff Geoff Dean.
A gunman opened fire in the Borderline Bar & Grill off Interstate 101 in Thousand Oaks, California, a city located about 40 miles northwest of Los Angeles. The gunman killed 10 people, then shot and killed Ventura County Sheriff’s Sgt. Ron Helus, a 29-year veteran with the department who responded to the scene and entered the building, according to Dean
He said at least 10 others were shot and wounded. Later, a Ventura County Fire Department public information officer said at least 20 injured were taken to or drove themselves to area hospitals.
About 11:20 p.m., authorities received multiple 911 calls about shots being fired at the Borderline Bar & Grill, located at 99 Rolling Oaks Drive.
A sheriff’s sergeant and a California Highway Patrol officer were the first to arrive on scene, responding within minutes, Dean said. After hearing gunshots, they decided to go into the restaurant.
Sgt. Ron Helus entered and was struck by multiple bullets, the sheriff said. The CHP officer went out and secured the perimeter until additional units arrived, then went to rescue Helus from the line of fire.
Additional units from multiple law enforcement agencies responded and made entry, where they found 11 victims killed inside.
Long was also found dead, but it’s unclear how he died.
“It’s well too early to know if he took his own life,” the sheriff said.
The sergeant died at a hospital sometime before 2 a.m. Helus, a 29-year veteran, was looking to retire next year. He lived in Moorpark and is survived by his wife and son.
“Ron was a hard-working dedicated sheriff’s sergeant,” Dean said. “He died a hero. He went in to save lives.”
Several victims were taken to Los Robles Regional Medical Center, including Helus, where he died. A medical worker told KTLA news that the hospital was “inundated” with injured after the shooting.
Holden Harrah, who was at the bar, told CNN the gunman walked in and opened fire within seconds.
“This guy just came out of nowhere and came out with a gun and shot people in Thousand Oaks, California,” Harrah said. “And that’s what’s really blowing my mind, it’s a really safe area.”
The gunfire started during line dancing, witnesses said. People dancing dropped to the floor and hid behind bar stools in stunned silence. Others jumped over chairs and broke windows to get out.
The official told The Associated Press that Long deployed a smoke device and used a .45-caliber handgun when he opened fire inside the Borderline Bar & Grill late Wednesday in Thousand Oaks, north of Los Angeles.
Authorities and witnesses say Long wore dark clothing and didn’t say anything as he fired inside the bar. Hundreds of people fled, some breaking windows and jumping out of second-floor windows to escape.
“He was shooting everything, from the speakers to anything,” Kayla Simmons said.
When deputies arrived at the scene, shots were still being fired, Ventura County Sheriff’s Office Capt. Garo Kuredjian said at a news conference.
Capt. Garo Kuredjian of the sheriff’s office said the first reports of shots fired came in around 11:20 p.m. local time (about 1:20 a.m. CST) at the bar. The bar’s website says it hosts “College Country Night” every Wednesday. Investigators said hundreds were inside the bar when the shooting occurred.
Witnesses told ABC News that Long fired several shots from a handgun before tossing smoke bombs, then starting to fire again. Police said at least 30 shots were fired.
“It’s such a small, closed off area,” said John Hedge, a witness who was in the bar and escaped. Hedge described what he saw after being reunited with his stepfather, who also escaped from the bar unscathed.
Hedge told KTLA he saw the bar’s bouncer dead on the floor, and they were going to take shelter in the bathroom when he saw the shooter move away from the front door.
“I was going to head to the bathroom, but I saw the shooter cut to the right, and I saw my chance,” Hedge said. “I ran out the front door.”
He said the shooter was “no more than 30. Younger guy.” He said the look on the shooter’s face struck him.
“He was a man on a mission,” Hedge said. “His eyes were blank. There was nothing there.”
“He looked like he had no soul,” Hedge’s stepfather added.
Friends told KTLA that some of those inside the bar survived the mass shooting at Las Vegas, when gunman Stephen Paddock opened fire from a Mandalay Bay hotel window onto a crowd of concert goers below. That shooting took place just over a year ago on Oct. 1, 2017.
The shooting took place as the bar was hosting its weekly “College Country Night,” and authorities said hundreds were inside when the gunfire erupted. Many were students, witnesses said.
The bar’s website said Borderline has been in operation for more than 25 years.
The bar, which includes a large dance hall with a stage and a pool room along with several smaller areas for eating and drinking, is a popular hangout for students from nearby California Lutheran University. Classes were canceled for the day following the shooting.
Other schools in the area include California State University Channel Islands in Camarillo, Pepperdine University in Malibu and Moorpark College in Moorpark.
Shootings of any kind are very rare in Thousand Oaks, a city of about 130,000 people about 40 miles west of Los Angeles.
It’s considered among the safest cities in the U.S., according to Mayor Andy Fox.
“I heard a gunshot, I turned around and I saw him shoot a couple more times,” student Teylor Whittler, 19, told CNN affiliate KABC.
“Within a split second, everybody yelled ‘get down’,” she said.
People “dog-piled on top of each other” trying to hide in silence, she said. Some men ran toward them and said the gunman was coming. As they escaped through the bar’s back door, she heard a second round of shots.
There was no screaming, she said. Just gunfire and stampeding crowds.
“I think everyone was in so much of a shock that it was sheer panic,” Whittler said.
Nick Steinwender, who is part of the university’s student government, said his friends were inside the bar when the shooting started. He described what they told him to the affiliate.
“It was chaos, people jumping out of windows, hopping over gates and just trying to get out,” he said. “From what I heard, the gunman started shooting at the front desk. … Students were hiding in the attics, bathrooms and stuff like that.”
Sheriff Dean said members of the FBI and the ATF were already on the scene to assist with the investigation, which he said would likely take “several days” and would be a methodical process.
“Obviously, the shooter had a plan. He knew what he was going to do,” the sheriff said. He said the scene left inside the bar was “ugly.”
“It’s a horrific scene with a waste of human life,” he said. “It’s something you wouldn’t even want to watch in a movie.”
Dean said with mass shootings nowadays, their current method of response is to enter the scene and try to stop the shooting as quickly as possible to reduce the loss of life. He wasn’t surprised that Helus and the other deputy who responded did their duty without fear for their own lives. The second deputy pulled Helus out of the bar to get him medical care as soon as possible.
Dean said Helus called his wife just before responding to the shooting call.
“He said, ‘I love you, honey. I gotta go, I gotta go take care of something.’ And that’s the last words she’ll ever hear from him,” Dean said.
Dean was emotional when discussing his slain colleague, who he described as a tactical officer, an outdoorsman and a great family man.
“He had a big heart and was just a great guy,” Dean said. “We’re all hurting.”
You can watch live coverage of the shooting from our Los Angeles affiliate KTLA by clicking here.
CNN contributed to this report.