Student Journalists Report From Thousand Oaks Shooting Where Classmates Partied

Dan Manrique

The sheriff of Ventura County, California is describing what happened late Wednesday night when a gunman killed 12 people at a bar.

People comfort each other as they stand near the scene in Thousand Oaks, Calif., where a gunman opened fire Wednesday inside a country dance bar crowded with hundreds of people November 8, 2018.

Sgt. Ron Helus, a 29-year veteran of the Ventura County Sheriff's Office, was speaking his wife on the phone "as he does several times during the shift, and said to her, 'Hey, I got to go handle a call, I love you, '" Ventura County Sheriff Geoff Dean said during a press conference Thursday morning.

The wounded police officer was taken to hospital, but later died of his injuries.

Thousand Oaks is a city of about 130,000 people about 64 kilometers west of Los Angeles, just across the county line.

On Wednesday night, students gathered for college country night between 9 p.m. and 2 a.m., according to the bar's website.

Dean said he has no doubt Helus and a California Highway Patrol officer who also was the first to respond "saved lives by going in there and engaging with the suspect".

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

Only 10 days ago a gunman killed 11 worshipers at a synagogue in Pittsburgh.

Police identified 28-year-old Ian David Long as the suspect in the shooting at a Thousand Oaks, Calif., bar that left at least 13 dead, including the suspected gunman.

It was the second mass shooting in America in less than two weeks. But most agree that there was a shooting and many people fled the bar and grill.

Map of California locating shooting at a bar in Thousand Oaks.

The perpetrator was later found dead inside the bar after apparently turning the gun on himself.

"We have no idea what the motive was at this point", Dean said.

Hundreds of people were inside the Borderline Bar & Grill in Thousand Oaks when Long, armed with an uzi, unleashed a terrifying barrage of smoke bombs before opening fire and killing 12 people, leaving "blood everywhere".

Helus was immediately hit with multiple gunshots, Dean said.

"He went in there to save people and paid the ultimate price", he said.

"I saw somebody on the floor as I was running to the front door to get out", he said.

Law enforcement agencies, firefighters and other first responders, along with several ambulances, additional units from the California Highway Patrol, Simi Valley and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, reached the spot soon after the shooting was reported.

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