Gunman kills 12 in California music bar
THOUSAND OAKS (California) • A gunman killed 12 people, including a police officer, when he opened fire in a country music bar packed with college students in California.
Police identified the shooter as US Marine Corps veteran Ian David Long, 28, and said they believed he shot himself dead inside the bar on the outskirts of Los Angeles. They said he had been armed with a .45-caliber handgun that was purchased legally. The motive of the shooting is not known.
Speaking at a press conference yesterday, a sheriff said a dozen other people had been injured.
It was the second mass shooting in America in less than two weeks.
Witnesses said the gunman, who was wearing a black trench coat, threw several smoke grenades inside the Borderline Bar and Grill before he started shooting at around 11.20pm local time on Wednesday.
“It’s a horrific scene in there. There is blood everywhere,” Ventura County Sheriff Geoff Dean told reporters. “We have no idea if there is a terrorism link to this or not. As you know, these are ongoing investigations and that information will come out as soon as we are able to determine exactly… what motive (the shooter) might have had for this horrific event.”
He said that so far, there had been no indications of a link to terrorism.
Sheriff Dean said the dead police officer, who was named Mr Ron Helus and had been in the police force for 29 years, was among the first on the scene.
“They found 11 victims that had been killed,” said Sheriff Dean of the first response unit, before detailing that the death of Mr Helus brought the toll to 12, not including the gunman.
Captain Garo Kuredjian of the Ventura County Sheriff’s office said earlier that the venue in the quiet, upscale Thousand Oaks suburb had been hosting an event for college students, with possibly several hundred young people in attendance.
Mr Matt Wennerstron, a 20-year-old student and regular at the bar, said the gunman fired a short-barrelled pistol that apparently had a 10 to 15-round magazine.
He said: “It was just semi-automatic, as many shots as he could pull, and then when it started to reload, that’s when we got people out of there and I didn’t look back.”
He said he and some other people smashed their way out of the bar onto a balcony and then jumped down to safety.
TV footage showed SWAT teams surrounding the bar, with distraught revellers milling around and using their mobile phones as lights from police cars flashed.
The Los Angeles Times quoted a law enforcement official as saying that at least 30 shots were fired.
It was the latest chapter in America’s epidemic of gun violence.
The incident came less than two weeks after a gunman with an automatic rifle fatally shot 11 people during Sabbath services at a Pittsburgh synagogue.
Last year, a country music festival in Las Vegas was the scene of the worst mass shooting in modern US history. In that incident, a gunman shot from the 32nd floor of a hotel and casino, killing 58 people.
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