Witnesses Describe Mass Shooting in Calif. Bar: 'All I Could Think About Was How Helpless I Was'
All was chaos and bloodshed during Wednesday night’s mass shooting at a California bar, according to witnesses at the scene.
When the gunman opened fire, not long before 11:30 p.m., people screamed and scattered to all of the bar’s exits. Some even picked up barstools and threw them through windows in order to escape.
“I dropped to the floor,” Sarah Rose DeSon told reporters, according to local station KTTV. “A friend yelled, ‘Everybody down!’ We were hiding behind tables trying to keep ourselves covered.”
Tayler Whitler, 19, watched the gunman move through the bar. “It was really, really, really shocking,” Whitler told KTTV. “It looked like he knew what he was doing.”
Matthew Wernerstrom, told the Los Angeles Times that he and other people hid under a pool table while the shooter apparently concentrated his fire on the employees working at the front desk.
“All I could think about was how helpless I was,” Wernerstrom recalled.
At least 12 people died and approximately 10 more were injured after a gunman threw smoke grenades and opened fire at the Borderline Bar & Grill in Thousand Oaks, west of Los Angeles, according to ABC News and the Times.
One of the victims was Sgt. Ron Helus, a longtime sheriff’s official reportedly on the verge of retirement.
The shooter — clad in a black shirt, black hat and black glasses — also died in the attack. Authorities said Thursday they believe he killed himself.
Gunfire was first reported about 11:20 p.m, Ventura County Sheriff Geoff Dean told reporters. “It’s a horrific scene in there,” Dean said. “There’s blood everywhere.
The bar was hosting a “College Country Night” on the night of the shooting and, according to the Times, hundreds of people were in attendance.
“It was chaos, people jumping out of windows, hopping over gates and just trying to get out,” Nick Steinwender, who had friends inside, told local TV station KABC. “From what I heard, the gunman started shooting at the front desk. … Students were hiding in the attics, bathrooms and stuff like that.”
“It’s a horrific incident,” Sheriff Dean adds. “It’s part of the horrors that are happening in our country and everywhere, and I think it’s impossible to put any logic or sense to the senseless.”