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Thousand Oaks: At least 12 killed at California bar shooting

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Media caption‘I can tell you there are multiple fatalities’

At least 12 people have been killed, including a police officer, at a country music bar in Thousand Oaks, California.

The shooting began at 23:20 local time on Wednesday about 40 miles (65km) north-west of Los Angeles, police say.

At least 200 people were reportedly inside the Borderline Bar and Grill, which was hosting a university student night, at the time of the attack.

Officials say the suspect, who has not been identified, was found dead inside.

They have not yet confirmed any motive behind the attack.

President Trump tweeted on Thursday morning to say he been briefed on the shooting, describing it as “terrible”, and praising the bravery of the police officers involved.

How did the shooting occur?

Witnesses say the suspect was dressed in all black, and forced his way into the bar after first shooting the bouncer.

A college country music night was under way when the suspect apparently threw a smoke grenade into the crowd before opening fire with at least one weapon.

Witnesses told CNN that he used a short-barrelled shotgun, while others told local media that he carried a “smaller-calibre handgun with a light or laser attached to the bottom of it”.

An injured man told local television channel KTLA: “We just dropped to the ground, we heard a lot of screaming. My friend is the DJ so she cut off the music, we just heard a lot of mayhem.”

Image copyrightEPA
Image caption The night is popular among the area’s local university students

Another witness, Teylor Whittler, who was celebrating her 21th birthday said: “I was on the dance floor and I heard the gunshots, so I looked back and then all of a sudden everyone screamed: Get Down!

“It was a huge panic, everyone got up, I was trampled, I was kind of left on the floor until some guy came behind me and grabbed me and dragged me out.”

People reportedly escaped the bar by using chairs to break windows, while others reportedly sheltered inside the venue’s toilets.

What have police said?

Ventura County Sherriff Geoff Dean described the scene inside the bar as “horrific” and said there was “blood everywhere”.

He said first responders arrived just three minutes after the first emergency calls from the venue were made.

Ventura Sheriff’s Sergeant Ron Helus, who later died in hospital, had tried to enter the active scene with a local highway patrolman when he was shot several times.

Image copyrightSocial Media
Image caption Sgt Ron Helus was one of the first officers on the scene

The husband and father-of-one had been a policeman for 29 years and was due to retire next year.

“It saddens us all and tears at our emotions. He died a hero. He went in to save lives, to save other people,” the sherriff said.

“It doesn’t matter how safe your community is, it doesn’t matter how low your crime rate is – there are people who just don’t think properly everywhere, I don’t care where you are, and they commit horrific acts like this,” he continued.

“There’s no way to process. There’s no way to make sense out of the senseless.”

What do we know about the gunman?

An unnamed law enforcement official who did not wish to be named told the LA Times that the shooter is a 29-year-old man who drove his mother’s car to the crime scene, and said nothing before opening fire.

Police say they recovered a handgun inside the bar and found the suspect dead inside.

They believe he may have taken his own life but have not confirmed this.

Who are the other victims?

It is not yet clear who the other 11 victims inside the bar are, but the Wednesday night country music event is popular with local university students.

According to the bar’s website, Wednesday nights are college-themed and are open to students as young as 18.

The bar is located close to California Lutheran University, Pepperdine University and Moorpark College and is popular among students.

Footage on local media of the aftermath shows injured young people being carried away from the scene by friends.

Police say at least 10 people are known to have been injured and others are self-reporting with injuries at local hospitals.

The latest in a long line

The US has suffered from mass shootings for decades, but most of the deadliest have occurred in recent years.

In the last two weeks alone, a man shot dead two people yoga studio in Florida, and another gunman opened fire on a synagogue in Pittsburgh, killing 11.

The deadliest attack in modern US history came last year in Las Vegas when a 62-year-old man opened fire on a crowd of 22,000 country music concertgoers from the 32nd floor of a nearby hotel, killing 58 and wounding hundreds.

One man who survived the attack on the Borderline Bar told CBS that several attendees on Wednesday night had also been present for the Las Vegas attack on the Route 91 Harvest Festival.

“It’s the second time in about a year and a month that this has happened,” Nicholas Champion said.

“It’s a big thing for us. We’re all a big family and unfortunately this family got hit twice.”

The previous most deadly attack was another just a year earlier, when 49 people were killed in Pulse – a gay nightclub – in June 2016. in Orlando.

Some students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida – where 17 were killed in February – have taken up a public campaign for gun law reform in recent months but little in the way of change has emerged from legislators.

According to the website Gun Violence Archive, more than 12,000 people have been killed using firearms in the US so far this year, including about 3,000 people under 18.

That number does not include an annual estimate of 22,000 suicides via firearm.


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