Gun­man kills 12 in Cal­i­for­nia bar

The Herald (South Africa) - - World - Javier To­var

A gun­man killed 12 peo­ple, in­clud­ing a po­lice­man, when he opened fire in a coun­try mu­sic bar packed with stu­dents in Cal­i­for­nia.

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

The sher­iff said about 12 other peo­ple had been in­jured.

The mo­tive and the iden­tity of the gun­man were not yet known, he said.

It was the sec­ond mass shoot­ing in Amer­ica in less than a fort­night.

Wit­nesses said the gun­man, who was bearded and wore a black trench­coat and glasses, threw smoke grenades in­side the Border­line Bar and Grill in the sub­urb of Thou­sand Oaks be­fore he started shoot­ing at about 11.20pm on Wed­nes­day.

“It’s a hor­rific scene in there. There is blood every­where,” Ven­tura County Sher­iff Ge­off Dean said.

“We have no idea if there is a ter­ror­ism link to this or not.

“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 or the FBI to be­lieve there is a ter­ror­ism link here.

“How­ever, we will cer­tainly look at that op­tion.”

Dean said 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 who had been killed,” he said of the first re­sponse unit be­fore the death of Helus brought the toll to 12, ex­clud­ing the gun­man.

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

“It was just semi-au­to­matic, as many shots as he could pull,” he said.

“Then, when he started to reload, that’s when we got peo­ple out of there and I didn’t look back.”

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

“One bar stool and straight through a win­dow,” Wen­ner­stron said.

Tele­vi­sion footage showed SWAT teams sur­round­ing the bar, with dis­traught rev­ellers milling around, us­ing their cell­phones, as lights from po­lice cars flashed.

Jas­min Alexan­der, who was part of a group of 15 friends at the bar, said there was chaos and con­fu­sion in­side when the shots first rang out.

“It was a nor­mal Wed­nes­day night.

“We were just at the bar, hav­ing fun, danc­ing,” she said af­ter es­cap­ing the shoot­ing.

“All of a sud­den we heard the ‘bang, bang’ of the gun­shots, it just started go­ing crazy and peo­ple were push­ing.

“We did not take it se­ri­ously at first be­cause it sounded like fire crack­ers, and ev­ery­one just dropped to the floor.”

Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump said on Twit­ter that he had “been fully briefed on the ter­ri­ble shoot­ing”. –

Pic­ture: REUTERS

SEEK­ING SO­LACE: Peo­ple com­fort each other af­ter the mass shoot­ing in Los An­ge­les

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