Authorities said a lone gunman with a .45-caliber pistol killed 12 people at a country music bar in Thousand Oaks, California, late. When the shooting began, the Borderline Bar & Grill likely had detained hundreds of people, drawn by the weekly “College Country Night”.
Among the dead was a sergeant. Ron Hillus, a 29-year-old law enforcement veteran, goes to a nightclub within minutes of receiving an emergency call. Up to 15 people were wounded inside the bar, and one person was wounded by a slight bullet.
Police say Ian David Long, 28, was the gunman and was found dead inside the scene. Ventura County Sheriff Jeff Dean said in a briefing Thursday morning that he had previously encountered minor police confrontations.
The authorities are still trying to determine the motive behind the shooting.
The sheriff said Long’s body was found in an office near the border entrance, adding, “We believe he shot himself” after an exchange of fire with law enforcement officers. Dean also said that the shooting inside the club stopped after Hilos and a highway patrol officer intervened.
When asked what the scene inside the Borderline looks like, Dean replied, “It’s like hell.”
At Borderline Bar & Grill it is billed as College Country Night. The club is known for its shows for all ages, and it announces dance classes at 9:30 and 10:30; Her Facebook page shows people dancing on the big dance floor. The border area is popular with students from nearby Pepperdine University, who said that “several students” were in the bar.
The shooting was reported at approximately 11:20 PM. Local time. Al-Sharif said that when the gunman approached the bar, “he shot a security guard outside and went inside and continued firing, killing 11 people inside.”
When the shooting started, the terrified students and other shepherds took shelter where they could, and ran to hide. Save as many as possible – via windows, back doors and fire remnants – or hide in bathrooms or an attic.
“Unfortunately, our guys, or the people in the nightclubs, knew that this might happen,” Dean said. “And they’re thinking about it. Fortunately, it probably saved so many lives that they fled the scene so quickly.”
A witness told Nate Root that he and others managed to escape after they grabbed a bar stool and threw it through a back window.
Witness Erica Siegman said, “I heard something explode – obviously gunshots.” And I realized it wasn’t music too quickly. I heard everyone screaming, ‘Come down! “I heard people start saying, ‘Run.’ So I booked her in my car with a group of people … and hid behind my car a little bit. I stopped and then took a second round.”
Another witness said he saw someone throw smoke bombs on the front of the restaurant and shoot a security guard.
John Hage told the station, “I was at the front door and I was chatting with my husband. I just started hearing these big pops.” “Pop, pop, pop. Maybe there were three or four, you just hit the ground. I looked up – the security guard died. Well, I don’t want to say he’s dead, but he’s shot. The gunman was throwing smoke grenades everywhere.” I saw him pointing to the back of the cash box … and he kept shooting, so I ran through the front door.
Dean said his office was aware of reports that the gunman had used smoke bombs inside the border line but had not yet confirmed them.
When the deputy sheriffs and other officers arrived at the scene, they were “still hearing gunshots” inside, said Captain Jarrow Corridjian of the Ventura County Police Office.
Relying on active shooting training that emphasizes rapid response, Hilos and a California Highway Patrol officer walk into the Grand Club.
“When Sergeant Hillus and the Highway Patrol officer entered, they immediately exchanged fire with the suspect, when Sergeant Helos was injured several times,” Dean said. Helus died in a nearby hospital.
Dean said, “He died a hero. He went to save lives and save others.” He also said that the 54-year-old sergeant was set to retire within the next year or so.
Dean said Hillus was on the phone with his wife when the call came about the shooting, and he quickly got the word “I love you, talk to you later.”
Dean said that when the shooting started, about six officers were out of service from various agencies within the club. And he added, in the midst of this horrific scene,