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, California, USA that was holding an event for college students, according to the New York Times.
The gunman is dead, officials said early Thursday, adding that there was no longer a threat to those at the bar, which had been filled with about 100 people at the time of the attack.
The Ventura County sheriff, Geoff Dean, said there were “multiple other victims of different levels of injuries.” His voice cracking, he identified the slain sheriff’s deputy as Ron Helus. When other law enforcement officers arrived at the scene of the shooting, he added, the suspect had already died.
Sheriff Dean said 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.
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 that she was at the bar to celebrate the 21st birthday of her friend Nellie Wong, and that she had seen the assailant draw his gun and aim it at a man near the front of the bar. She ducked for cover and heard a barrage of bullets follow.
The shooting at the popular country and western venue came just over a year after 58 people were killed at a country music festival in Las Vegas when Stephen Paddock opened fire from a high-rise hotel room.
That attack — and the mass shooting at a high school in Parkland, Fla., in February — renewed the debate about the prevalence of guns in the United States and their connection to the high number of mass shootings in the country.
The rampage began late Wednesday at the popular music venue in Thousand Oaks. “There were shots fired at the Borderline Bar and Grill” at 11:20 p.m., said Capt. Garo Kuredjian, a spokesman for the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office. “As deputies responded, they also heard shots.” Additional units from the California Highway Patrol, Simi Valley and the F.B.I. responded, he said.
Captain Kuredjian said at the time of the shooting that about 100 people had been inside the bar, which was filled with young people who turned out for a college country music night. The bar is not far from Pepperdine University, which said in a statement that it had received reports that several students were at the bar when the shooting occurred.
Borderline’s website says that for a quarter century, it “has stood as the Ventura County’s largest country dance hall and live music venue,” with more than 2,500 square feet of open dance space.
One young woman inside the bar, Teylor Whittler, described a chaotic scene as the gunfire erupted.
“I saw him shoot,” she recalled, adding that someone had yelled, “Everybody get down.”