A masked gunman stormed a packed country dance bar in Southern California on Wednesday evening, shooting and killing at least 12 people.
Around 11:20 p.m., the shooter entered the Borderline Bar & Grill in Thousand Oaks, a city approximately 40 miles west of Los Angeles. Law enforcement officers say that he first used a smoke device to disorient the bar’s patrons and then proceeded to randomly fire a .45-caliber handgun, killing as many people as he could. The patrons used everything that could get their hands on to flee the massacre. Bar stools were thrown at windows so people could escape.
“It’s a horrific scene in there. There’s blood everywhere,” said Ventura County Sheriff Geoff Dean.
The country bar is a popular venue for university students from numerous nearby institutions, such as the California Lutheran University, California State University Channel Islands, Pepperdine University, and Moorpark College.
Cole Knapp, a freshman at Moorpark College described the scene: “I tried to get as many people to cover as I could. There was an exit right next to me, so I went through that. That exit leads to a patio where people smoke. People out there didn’t really know what was going on. There’s a fence right there so I said, ‘Everyone get over the fence as quickly as you can,’ and I followed them over.”
President Donald Trump said on a tweet that he fully briefed on the situation. “Great bravery shown by police. California Highway Patrol was on scene within 3 minutes, with first officer to enter shot numerous times. That Sheriff’s Sergeant died in the hospital. God bless all of the victims and families of the victims. Thank you to Law Enforcement,” he added.
Emerging reports identify the gunman as a 29-year-old male.
This is the last incident in a row of mass shootings. Two weeks ago, a gunman killed 11 people at Pittsburgh synagogue. A few months ago, another massacre occurred in Parkland, Florida, where 17 students and teachers were killed by a gunman.
Tayler Whitler, another survivor, said that “It was really, really, really shocking. It looked like he knew what he was doing.”
It appears that some of the survivors were also present at the Route 91 shooting in Las Vegas. Route 91, another country music event, was the deadliest shooting in U.S. history with 58 people killed.
The casualties include Sheriff’s Sgt. Ron Helus, a sheriff’s sergeant, who was gunned down as he stormed the bar. He was the point man.
“Ron was a hardworking, dedicated sheriff’s sergeant who was totally committed, and tonight, as I told his wife, he died a hero because he went in to save lives,” added Dean.