At least 12 people were killed and at least 10 others injured when a gunman burst into a packed Southern California bar, tossing smoke grenades and firing dozens of rounds, witnesses and authorities said.
The lone suspect was found dead inside the Borderline Bar and Grill in Thousand Oaks, police said. Authorities are working to determine who he is and what his motive may have been.
Sgt. Ron Helus, a 29-year veteran who was about to retire, was among the dozen killed overnight, according to the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department.
Helus was one of the first on the scene and was struck multiple times when he went through the front door, the sheriff’s office said.
Police responded to the Borderline Bar and Grill in Thousand Oaks, about 40 miles west of Los Angeles, just before midnight local time.
Hundreds were inside the bar at the time.
Teylor Whittler was on the dance floor celebrating a friend’s 21st birthday when she heard the gunshots.
“A bunch of people dog-piled on top of each other,” she told “Good Morning America.” “Everyone just yelled, ‘Run, he’s coming!'”
“There were at least 50 people that all tried getting up at once and running out the back door. I ended up getting caught in the ground and stumbled over by multiple people,” Whittler said. “I got hit in the head by a stool that was being picked up to throw through a window, until some guy came up behind me and grabbed me and said, ‘Get up, we have to go!'”
She said multiple men around her blocked the group with their bodies “ready to take a bullet for every single one of us.”