Gunman Kills 12 Persons Including Police Officer In California Bar Shooting
A gunman killed 12 people, including a police officer, when he opened fire in a country music bar packed with college students in California, officials and witnesses said Thursday.
Police said the gunman was found dead inside the bar on the outskirts of Los Angeles although it was not immediately clear if he was killed by officers or shot himself.
The local sheriff said that around a dozen other people had been injured. He said the motive of the shooting and the identity of the gunman were not yet known.
It was the second mass shooting in America in less than a fortnight.
Witnesses said that the gunman, who was bearded and wore a black trenchcoat and glasses, threw several smoke grenades inside the Borderline Bar and Grill before he started shooting at around 11:20pm on Wednesday night.
“It’s a horrific scene in there. There is blood everywhere,” Ventura County Sheriff Geoff Dean said at a pre-dawn press conference.
“We have no idea if there is a terrorism link to this or not. As you know, these are ongoing investigations and that information will come out as soon as we are able to determine exactly who the suspect was and what motive he might have had for this horrific event.”
“Nothing has led me to believe or the FBI there is a terrorism link here. We certainly will look at that option.”
Dean said that the dead police officer, who was named as Ron Helus and had been on the force for 29 years, was among the first on the scene.
“They found 11 victims that had been killed,” said Dean of the first response unit before detailing that the death of Helus brought the toll to 12, not including the gunman.
Matt Wennerstron, a 20-year-old college student and regular at the bar in the upscale Thousand Oaks suburb, said the shooter fired a short-barreled pistol that apparently had a 10-15 round magazine.
“It was just semi-automatic, as many shots as he could pull,” he told journalists.
“Then, when (he) 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.