Fri, Nov 09, 2018 - Page 7 News List

Gunman kills 12 in California bar, one police officer slain

AFP, THOUSAND OAKS, California

A gunman killed 12 people, including a police officer, when he opened fire in a country music bar packed with college students in California, officials and witnesses said yesterday.

Police said the gunman was found dead inside the bar on the outskirts of Los Angeles, although it was not immediately clear whether he was killed by officers or shot himself.

Speaking at news conference, a sheriff said that about a dozen other people had been injured.

He said the motive of the shooting and the identity of the shooter were not known.

Witnesses said that the gunman, who was wearing a black trenchcoat, threw several smoke grenades inside the Borderline Bar and Grill before he started he shooting at about 11:20pm on Wednesday night.

“It’s a horrific scene in there. There is blood everywhere,” Ventura County Sheriff Geoff Dean told reporters. “We have no idea if there is a terrorism link to this or not. As you know, these are ongoing investigations and that information will come out as soon as we are able to determine exactly who the suspect was and what motive he might have had for this horrific event.”

“Nothing has led me to believe or the FBI there is a terrorism link here. We certainly will look at that option,” Dean said.

Dean said that the dead police officer, who was named as Ron Helus and had been on the force for 29 years, was among the first on the scene.

“They found 11 victims that had been killed,” Dean said of the first-response unit before detailing that the death of Helus brought the toll to 12, not including the gunman.

The venue in the quiet, upscale Thousand Oaks suburb had been hosting an event for college students, with possibly several hundred young people in attendance, Ventura County Sheriff’s Office Captain Garo Kuredjian said earlier.

Matt Wennerstron, a 20-year-old college student and regular at the bar, said the shooter fired a short-barreled pistol that apparently had a 10-to-15-round magazine.

“It was just semi-automatic, as many shots as he could pull, and then when it started to reload, that’s when we got people out of there and I didn’t look back,” Wennerstron said.

He said he and others smashed their way out of the bar onto a balcony and then jumped down to safety.

“One bar stool and straight through a window,” he told reporters.

TV footage showed SWAT teams surrounding the bar, with distraught revelers milling around and using their cell phones while lights from police cars flashed.

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