The news when everyone was waking up this morning was grim. Another mass shooting has taken place, this one at the Borderline Bar and Grill in Thousand Oaks, California, which is located to the west of Los Angeles. The bar was hosting a country and western themed event for college students last night when a man, described by one witness as “dressed all in black,” entered the establishment and began firing on patrons and employees with what he described as “a short barrel handgun.” As always, early details are suspect until confirmed. (ABC News)
At least 12 people were killed and perhaps a dozen others injured late Wednesday at a packed Southern California bar when a gunman dressed in black burst in, tossed smoke grenades and fired off dozens of rounds, witnesses and authorities said.
The suspect was found dead inside the bar, police said. Authorities are working to determine who he is and what his motive may have been.
A sheriff’s deputy was among the dozen killed, according to the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department. The officer died at a hospital after he was fired on multiple times arriving on scene.
Initial reports from officers from the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department and California Highway Patrol said about 30 shots were fired. Hundreds were inside the bar at the time.
As usual, there will be massive speculation about motives and means, but we’re not going to go down that path. The little that’s known at the time of this writing comes primarily from an initial news conference held at the scene by Sheriff Geoff Dean. Most of the early headlines are saying 12 dead, but Dean said that there were eleven victims dead inside, plus the shooter was dead. Also, the first LEO to respond, Sheriff’s Deputy Ron Helus, was met by gunfire when he entered and died later at a local hospital. That would bring the total to 13. Additionally, upwards of a dozen other people were injured with many being treated at local hospitals.
The Sherrif said that there was “no indication” of any sort of rifle and initially they had found a single handgun. Whether the gunman took his own life or not remains a matter of speculation but the Sherrif said it was “likely” based on what they observed during their initial investigation. Some witnesses reported that smoke bombs were used by the shooter but others said they saw nothing of the sort. As I said, it will be a while before all of this is sorted out. Until we know who the shooter is we won’t have much to go on. Initial reports mentioning possible terrorism were unconfirmed. The Sherrif said that terrorism was “one line of investigation” they would obviously check into but there was no indication of that initially.
This may have been a terror attack. It might have been random. The guy might have had a beef with the club or people associated with it. There’s no point in guessing. A separate report from CBS News claims one witness said the shooter was, “pointing a handgun over the counter toward the workers that were working there and just started firing.” Assuming this is an accurate accounting (still a big assumption at this point), it could suggest that the shooter was specifically after the staff of the establishment, rather than firing randomly into the crowd for a maximum body count. But eyewitness reports are frequently unreliable during the panic that sets in during such an event.
We’ll update this when more is known. For now, it’s worth focusing on those who lost their lives, including Deputy Helus, who was within a few years of retirement. He is survived by a wife and one son.
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