A gunman killed 12 people at a country music bar in Thousand Oaks, Calif. late Wednesday evening (Nov. 7).
CNN reports that several hundred people were inside the Borderline Bar and Grill for the bar's "college country night." The shooting began around 11:20 p.m. local time when a lone white male gunman entered, deployed a smoke grenade and began firing into the crowd.
The deceased include Sgt. Ron Helus, a 29-year veteran of law enforcement. Helus was shot multiple times after entering the venue with a highway patrol officer. NBC reports that officials feared that the death toll would've been higher if Helus hadn't entered the venue when he did.
"He died a hero. He went in to save lives, to save other people," Sherriff Geoff Dean told reporters.
Dean said the victims who were inside the venue when the shooting began range in age from 19 to 25 years old.
The 12 victims are: Sgt. Ron Helus, 22-year-old Cody Coffman, 23-year-old Justin Meek, Dan Manrique, Mark Meza, Blake Dingman, Sean Adler, Noel Sparks, Jake Dunham, Telemachus Orfanos, Kristina Morisette and Alaina Housley, the niece of actress Tamara Mowry-Housley.
Authorities have said that between 10 and 12 people were also injured in the shooting.
According to reports, some of those inside the Borderline bar also survived the 2017 Route 91 shooting. Chandler Gunn, a 23-year-old resident of Newbury Park, Calif., told the Los Angeles Times that his friend who works at Borderline was a Route 91 survivor.
"A lot of people in the Route 91 situation go here," Gunn told the Los Angeles Times. "There's people that live a whole lifetime without seeing this, and then there's people that have seen it twice."
Speaking to reporters, Matt Wennerstrom, 20, who was inside the bar when the shooting began, described seeing a figure dressed in black opening fire toward the front desk of the venue.
"At that point I grabbed as many people around me as I could and grabbed them down under the pool table we were closest to until he ran out of bullets for that magazine and had to reload," Wennerstrom told USA Today.
Wennerstrom said he and others escaped by throwing barstools through windows and climbing out.
Authorities report that the gunman's body was found in the bar when police arrived on the scene. Police have identified the gunman as Ian David Long, a 28-year-old Marine Corps veteran. Dean said officials found a Glock .45-caliber handgun at the scene. CNN reports that Long shot himself at the scene.
ABC reports that one of Long's neighbors told the network that Long suffered from PTSD and lived with his mother.
Sherriff Dean said law enforcement had "minor" run-ins with Long in the past.
"We've had several contacts with Mr. Long over the years, minor events, a traffic collision. He was a victim of a battery at a local bar in 2015. In April of this year, deputies were called to his house for a subject disturbing. They went to the house, they talked to him. He was somewhat irate. Acting a little irrationally. They called out our crisis intervention team, our mental health specialists who met with him, talked to him and cleared him. Didn't feel he was qualified to be taken under 5150. And he was left at that scene last April," Dean said.
Brendan Kelly, a Route 91 survivor, was also one of the survivors of the Thousand Oaks shooting.
Kelly told ABC he's a regular at Borderline and was there on Wednesday night when the gunman began firing. Kelly said he immediately recognized the "pop pop" sound and began grabbing those around him, throwing them to the ground to keep them safe. Kelly and those he rescued made it to safety by escaping out a back exit.
Kelly said the bar had been a special place to gather for those who were survivors of the Route 91 shooting in Vegas.
"It's too close to home," Kelly told ABC. "Borderline was our safe space after, for lack of a better term, it was our our home for the probably 30 or 45 of us who are all from the greater Ventura County area who were in Vegas. That was our place where we went to the following week, three nights in a row just so we could be with each other."
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