(NBC News) Thirteen people, including a sheriff’s deputy and the suspected gunman, are dead after a shooting inside a crowded California bar.
The shooting took place late Wednesday night at the Borderline Bar and Grill in Thousand Oaks.
Police say several hundred people were inside when a man armed with a handgun entered and opened fire during a “college country night” for students.
“He walked in, didn’t say one word, just pulled out a gun and started shooting,” said shooting survivor Holden Harrah.
The bar’s security guard was the first victim.
Witnesses say the gunman also set off smoke bombs, adding to the confusion.
The crowd inside immediately went into survival mode, throwing chairs though windows to make escape routes, helping each other get out and forming human shields by piling onto one another.
“A couple of us threw bar stools through the window because that was the closest way to get out, and we were just shuffling people through the window, as many as we could,” said Matt Wennerstrom.
Ventura County Sheriff Sergeant Ron Helus ran inside when he heard gunfire. At some point, he was shot, and taken to a nearby hospital, where he later died.
“It’s a horrific scene in there. There’s blood everywhere,” Ventura County Sheriff Geoff Dean said afterward.
Investigators later identified the shooter as 28-year-old Ian David Long, a Marine Corps veteran.
So far, Long’s motive isn’t known.
Long was the subject of a police welfare check in April. He was acting erratically and a mental health evaluation was performed at the time, but he was cleared as a danger to himself and others.
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