Gunman kills 12 in California bar
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”. –
SEEKING SOLACE: People comfort each other after the mass shooting in Los Angeles