At least 12 people have died while multiple others face injuries, after a gunman opened fire in a Southern California bar on Wednesday, according to police officials.
A Ventura County sergeant who responded to scene was among the fatalities. Police have identified the sergeant as Ron Helus, a 29-year veteran of the force. At least 25 people face injuries from the shooting.
The shooter has been identified as Ian David Long, 28, KABC reports. According to police, Long was armed with a .45-caliber handgun during the shooting. Long was a former marine and purchased his gun legally reports USA Today.
Authorities confirmed Long was killed inside the venue, but did not want to count him among the 12 fatalities. It is not clear whether or not he died in gunfire exchange with police or took his own life.
According to KABC, the gunman entered the Borderline Bar & Grill in Thousand Oaks around 11:20 p.m, the same night where college students frequent. Witnesses say Long entered the bar wearing all black and sporting a beard. Authorities believe at least 100 people were inside the bar when shots rang out.
Witnesses describe a chaotic and terrifying scene as they tried to flee to safety.
“I just started hearing these big pops,” witness, John Hedge said in an interview with KABC. “The gunman was throwing smoke grenades all over the place.”
Hedge told the outlet the gunman walked into the bar, shot a security guard and a cashier before throwing the smoke bomb. His stepfather John was also in the bar and describes a harrowing scene.
“He fired the first shot. I knew it was live. I knew it was real,” he said. “My son thought it was a joke so I pulled him down and got some cover. I looked up and he was moving to the right. He shot the front doorman, who was just a young man. Then he shot the cashier, just a young girl.”
Others say they jumped into action. Matt Wennerstrom threw a barstool threw a window, rescuing at lest 30 people during the shooting.
“All I did was grab as many people as I could and pull them underneath the table until I heard a break in the shots, and then we got people out of there, as much as we could,” he said in an interview with KABC.
Several law enforcement agencies including Simi Valley and Oxnard police arrived to assist Sheriff’s deputies and SWAT officers. The FBI is also on the scene, KABC reports.
President Trump said he was fully briefed on the shooting and offered his condolences on social media. He also ordered flags to be positioned at half-staff at the White House and all federal buildings.
Multiple families whose children attend several of the surrounding colleges are still trying to locate their loved ones.
Former Fox News correspondent Adam Housley, husband to actress and The Real host Tamera Housley, says his niece Alaina was at the scene and was tracked by her Apple Watch. Alaina is a freshman attending nearby Pepperdine University. The family has not yet located her whereabouts.
An emergency hotline has been established for anyone trying to locate a loved one at Borderline Bar & Grill: (805) 465-6650.
Social media poured out their condolences for the families of the victims and the survivors.