THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. — Thirteen people including a sheriff’s deputy and the gunman were killed in a shooting in a crowded bar here late Wednesday night, reports CBS Los Angeles. The shooter was found dead inside, authorities said.
The station said one person was seen — apparently lifeless — on the ground outside the bar’s entrance.
Ventura County Sheriff Geoff Dean told reporters early Thursday his colleague died at a hospital. He was identified as Sheriff’s Sgt. Ron Helus, a 29-year veteran about a year from retiring.
His voice cracking, Dean described Helus as a friend. “I told his wife he died a hero — he went in to save lives,” Dean said. Helus is survived by a wife and son.
Sheriff’s Sgt. Ron Helus VENTURA COUNTY POLICE
Dean said, “It’s a horrific scene in there. There’s blood everywhere.”
He said the gunman had apparently shot himself.
Dean added that the shooter’s motive wasn’t known and it wasn’t clear if it was a case of terrorism.
He said the only weapon found in an initial sweep was a handgun. Witnesses said the shots sounded like they were coming from a semi-automatic weapon.
In addition to those who died, injured or wounded patrons were brought to hospitals or went to them on their own.
Ventura County Sheriff’s deputies responded to the Borderline Bar and Grill, some 40 miles west of L.A., at about 11:20 p.m.
Sheriff’s Capt. Garo Kuredjian said deputies could hear gunfire when they arrived.
Helus raced in and was shot numerous times, Dean said.
There were roughly 200 people in the bar for a popular weekly “College Country” night, authorities said.
The gunman threw smoke bombs when he entered, perhaps to cause confusion, CBS L.A. reported. But Dean said the bomb squad was called in and found no devices.
Witnesses told the station some people broke windows to get out or smashed windows so others could flee. Some terrified customers hid in bathrooms and attics, Dean said.
People watch unfolding scene from nearby intersection as police vehicles close off area outside country music bar and grill in Thousand Oaks, west of Los Angeles, where a gunman opened fire late on November 7, 2018 FREDERIC J. BROWN / AFP/GETTY IMAGES
The father of one patron told CBS L.A. his daughter told him the gunman “knew what he was doing” and came in “with a purpose.”
A witness told the station, “There were people in the middle dancing and just hanging out and having a good time” when “very, very loud gunshots” rang out inside.
Numerous law enforcement agencies were on-scene, including the FBI and the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. National Guard members were assisting, as well.
Patrons were seen being led out of the bar by deputies.
Scene at Borderline Bar and Grill after mass shooting late on November 8, 2018 CBS LOS ANGELES
This is a breaking news report. More information will be provided as it becomes available.