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12 dead in California bar shooting

A deputy sheriff was among the dead; official describes the scene as ‘horrific’ with ‘blood everywhere’
NEWS DESK
WASHINGTON
A gunman burst into a packed bar in Southern California and opened fire on people line dancing, killing at least 12 before he was found dead at the scene, authorities said.
Ventura County sheriff’s Sgt. Ron Helus was among those killed Wednesday night at the Borderline Bar & Grill in Thousand Oaks, authorities said. At least 10 to 15 others were injured, Ventura County Sheriff Geoff Dean said.
Helus had been at the department for nearly three decades and planned to retire within the next year, the sheriff said, choking back tears.
“Ron … gave his all and tonight, he died a hero because he went in to save lives,” Dean said.
The Western-style bar is near several colleges, and it was hosting a college night for country line dancing, open to anyone 18 or older, witnesses said.
The gunman opened fire around 11:20 p.m., police said. Witnesses described a man clothed in black and wearing glasses as he walked onto the dance floor filled with people.
The suspect, who has not been identified, was found dead inside the bar, Dean said. It’s unclear whether he took his own life. The motive of the attack also is not clear, the sheriff said, and authorities are looking at all possibilities, including it being terror-related.
“It’s a horrific scene in there,” he said. “There is blood everywhere and the suspect is part of that, and I didn’t want to get that close and disturb the scene and possibly disturb the investigation.”
The shooting started while patrons were line dancing — and people dropped to the floor and hid behind bar stools in stunned silence, witnesses said. Others jumped over chairs and broke windows to get out.
Taylor Von Molt, 21, said she was line dancing when she “heard what I thought was a balloon pop.”
“I heard it a couple more times, and I turned around and I saw him (the gunman),” she said.
“He had … what looked like a bandanna on the bottom on his face, sunglasses, black hoodie, dark jeans.”
She ran toward the nearest exit but tripped, and people kept running on top of her in a rush to escape. Eventually she got up and ran out — and got checked at a hospital for bruises.
Von Molt said some of her friends got out, but she didn’t immediately know where others were.
John Hedge, who was at the bar with his stepfather, told CNN affiliate KABC that he hit the ground after hearing three or four popping sounds.
“I started hearing these big pops. Pop, pop, pop, he said. “I look up — the security guard is dead. Well, I don’t want to say he was dead, but he was shot.”
California Lutheran University student Teylor Whittler told KABC that after she heard a shot, she “turned around and I saw him (the gunman) shoot a couple more times.”



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