THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. — At least 11 bar patrons and a sheriff’s deputy were killed late Wednesday in a shooting at a country and western dance hall in Thousand Oaks, Calif., that was holding an event for college students, officials said.
The gunman is dead, officials said early Thursday, adding that there was no longer a threat to those at the bar, the Borderline Bar & Grill, which had been filled with about 100 people at the time of the attack. Witnesses described a chaotic scene: A gunman opening fire, first at a security guard, as patrons dropped to the dance floor, hid under tables and broke windows to escape.
The Ventura County sheriff, Geoff Dean, said there were “multiple other victims of different levels of injuries.” His voice cracking, he identified one of the dead as Sgt. Ron Helus, who was shot when he entered the building.
“He died a hero because he went, he went in to save lives, to save other people’s lives,” Sheriff Dean said.
When other law enforcement officers arrived at the scene, he added, the suspect was already dead. Sheriff Dean said that the suspect had not been identified, that the authorities had “no idea” whether he had links to terrorism, and that it was not clear if he had taken his own life. President Trump said on Twitter that he had been “fully briefed on the terrible shooting.”
Country music was playing in the dimly lit bar when people first heard gunshots some time before midnight. Some said they had initially mistaken the sounds for firecrackers.
Chyann Worrell, a junior at California State University Channel Islands, said she was at the bar to celebrate the 21st birthday of her friend Nellie Wong for a night of line-dancing with a live D.J. Shortly after 11 p.m., Ms. Worrell said, the gunman, wearing dark clothing and a dark baseball cap, drew his gun. He aimed it at a man near the front of the bar.