Mid­night mas­sacre

12 dead in late-night Cal­i­for­nia bar at­tack

The Jerusalem Post - - FRONT PAGE -

A gun­man killed 12 peo­ple in­clud­ing a sher­iff’s deputy af­ter he walked into a South­ern Cal­i­for­nia bar and started shoot­ing late on Wed­nes­day night, po­lice said.

The gun­man was also killed, Ven­tura County Sher­iff Ge­off Dean told a news con­fer­ence early on Thurs­day, though it was not im­me­di­ately clear by whom.

An un­known num­ber of peo­ple were wounded dur­ing the at­tack at the Border­line Bar and Grill, a coun­try and western venue in the Los An­ge­les sub­urb of Thou­sand Oaks.

“It’s a hor­rific scene in there,” Dean said. “There is blood every­where and the sus­pect is part of that.”

Of­fi­cials said shots were still be­ing fired when the first of­fi­cers ar­rived at the scene.

The dead of­fi­cer was iden­ti­fied as Sgt. Ron Helus, a 29-year vet­eran of the depart­ment, Dean told re­porters. Helus and a Cal­i­for­nia High­way Pa­trol of­fi­cer were the first to ar­rive at the bar and went in­side just be­fore 11:30 p.m. PST.

Af­ter a lull of about 15 min­utes, more of­fi­cers went in­side and found the sus­pected gun­man dead of a gun­shot wound. It was not clear whether he killed him­self or was killed by of­fi­cers, Dean said.

It was the lat­est mass shoot­ing to rock the United States, six days af­ter the death of two women at a yoga class in Tal­la­has­see, Florida, and 12 days af­ter an an­tisemitic gun­man en­tered a sy­n­a­gogue in Pitts­burgh and killed 11 wor­shipers.

US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump, who has re­sisted a surge in calls for tougher gun con­trols since 17 stu­dents were shot dead at Stone­man Dou­glas High School in Florida ear­lier this year, said on Twit­ter that he had been “fully briefed on the ter­ri­ble shoot­ing in Cal­i­for­nia.”

Wit­ness John Hedge told ABC News he was near the front door of the Cal­i­for­nia bar when the shoot­ing be­gan.

“I just started hear­ing th­ese big pops. Pop pop pop,” he said. “There was prob­a­bly three or four. I hit the ground. I look up. The se­cu­rity guard... was shot, he was down. The gun­man was throw­ing smoke grenades all over the place. I saw him point to the back at the cash regis­ter and he just kept fir­ing.”

Dean es­ti­mated that 10 to 15 peo­ple, in­clud­ing one with a gun­shot wound, had gone to area hos­pi­tals. He said he thought their in­juries were mi­nor, and that most of them were likely in­jured as they es­caped, some by break­ing win­dows.

“There were peo­ple hid­ing in re­strooms, peo­ple hid­ing in at­tics,” Dean said.

Dean said that the shooter had a hand­gun and that at this early stage in the in­ves­ti­ga­tion he be­lieved he had only one gun. Wit­nesses de­scribed a rapid se­quence of shots that it made them think he was us­ing a semi-au­to­matic weapon.

Thou­sand Oaks was named the third-safest city in the United States for 2018 by the web­site Niche.

“I’ve learned it doesn’t mat­ter what com­mu­nity you’re in,” Dean told re­porters when asked if he was sur­prised this hap­pened in Thou­sand Oaks. “It doesn’t mat­ter how safe your com­mu­nity is. It can hap­pen any­where.”

Tay­lor Von Molt, 21, told CNN that the shooter was wear­ing what looked like a ban­danna and a hoodie and was a burly man.

She said she was part of a group of line dancers that met at the bar for a col­lege night ev­ery Wed­nes­day. (Reuters)

A PO­LICE OF­FI­CER guards the site of a mass shoot­ing at a bar early yes­ter­day morn­ing in Thou­sand Oaks, Cal­i­for­nia.

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