12 killed, gunman dead in mass shooting at California bar

Emergency services at the scene. Pic

Emergency services at the scene. Pic

Twelve people, including a sheriff's sergeant, were killed in a mass shooting at a crowded Southern California bar Wednesday night.

Ron Helus was among those killed, authorities said.

Ventura County Sheriff Geoff Dean said police believed Long then turned the gun on himself, bringing the death toll to 13.

Helus loved to go fishing in the Sierra Nevada Mountains with his son, according to Sgt. Eric Buschow of the Ventura County Sheriff's Office, who worked with him for 29 years.

"And tonight, as I told his wife, he died a hero because he went in to save lives".

Authorities said the gunman died inside the bar but would not say how he died.

"It's a horrific scene in there", he said. "There is blood everywhere and the suspect is part of that".

"I started hearing these big pops". "There are a few people we can't get a hold of, but in these situations people usually turn off their phones to be safe so I'm not gonna get too anxious".

"I can't tell you much about the shooter at this point", Kuredjian said. It's unclear whether he reloaded the weapon after initially opening fire. "And that's what's really blowing my mind, it's a really safe area". People dropped to the floor and hid behind bar stools in stunned silence.

"California Highway Patrol was on scene within 3 minutes, with first officer to enter shot numerous times", the president said.

The gunman threw smoke bombs when he entered, perhaps to cause confusion, CBS L.A. reported. "Acting a little irrationally". The Western-style bar hosts theme nights such as country, salsa and swing dancing.

Helus was having a conversation with his wife on the phone at the time he got the call about the shooting, as he does several times during his the shift, according to Dean. "A lot of them do live nearby in Thousand Oaks so a lot of them did get to a students house", she added. He said they watched the gunman shoot the bouncer and then move through the bar. As they escaped through the bar's back door, she heard a second round of shots.

There was no screaming, she said - just gunfire and stampeding crowds.

Some of the people present at the mass shooting in a California nightclub Wednesday night were also survivors of the Las Vegas country music concert shooting past year, according to a friend. "He started shooting my direction and I could hear the whistling over my head, so I ducked down behind some chairs and tables".

The motive of the attack is not clear, the sheriff said, and authorities are looking at all possibilities, including it being terror-related.

The city of about 130,000 people is around 40 miles (64km) west of Los Angeles.