By David E. Hubler
Contributor, EDM Digest
A gunman opened fire in a packed bar in Thousand Oaks, California, on Wednesday night, killing at least 12 people, including a sheriff’s sergeant, and wounding several others. The shooter was found dead at the scene, Ventura County Sheriff Geoff Dean told Los Angeles radio station KTLA.
Authorities have not disclosed the shooter’s name, “but a law enforcement source told the Los Angeles Times that he was 29-year-old man armed with a Glock .45 handgun and some type of smoke device.” It’s unclear how he died.
No Idea if the Shootings Were Linked to Terrorism
Police detectives are also trying to determine a motive for the slayings. “We have no idea if there’s a terrorism link,” Dean told the media Thursday morning.
A witness told the Times that the gunman entered the Borderline Bar & Grill around 11:20 p.m. on Wednesday.
Holden Harrah, 21, was among the hundreds of young patrons listening to music during a college night event. Harrah told the Times that he looked over at the front door and saw a bearded man walk in wearing a black hat, glasses and a black shirt.
He “just pulled out a gun and shot my friend that was working the front desk,” Harrah said.
Police initially learned of the rampage from numerous 911 calls. The first law enforcement personnel arrived on scene at 11:22 p.m. Pacific time.
First responders Were Met with Gunfire
When the officers entered the bar and grill four minutes later, Sheriff Sergeant Ron Helus and an unidentified California Highway Patrol officer were met with gunfire, Dean recounted. He said Helus, a 29-year veteran of the department, was shot several times and died at an area hospital early Thursday morning.
About 15 minutes after that initial encounter, a second group of law enforcement personnel arrived and entered the bar. By that time, the gunfire had ceased, Dean said.
When the officers entered the building, the unidentified suspect was found on the floor with a gunshot wound, the sheriff said. Patrons were hiding in the bar’s restrooms and in the attic of the building.
Sergeant Helus, who was planning to retire next year, is survived by his wife and son.