On Wednesday night, a gunman opened fire in a packed California bar during "college country night," killing at least 12, one of whom was a sheriff's sergeant responding to the attack.
The shooter, dressed in all black with a hood on, entered Borderline Bar & Grill in Thousand Oaks, CA at around 11:20 p.m. on Wednesday night and unleashed some 30 gunshots after first shooting the bar's bouncer, witnesses say.
The bar was packed with hundreds of patrons, most of whom were college students from Pepperdine University, California State University Channel Islands, and California Lutheran University, reports Fox News.
The shooter was found dead inside the venue by authorities, though it is unclear if he took his own life.
"It is a horrific scene in there. There is blood everywhere," said Sheriff Geoff Dean during a press conference following the attack.
At the presser, Dean said he believes the shooter threw smoke bombs and used a handgun during the attack.
The sheriff added that authorities are not willing to rule out terrorism due to the nature of the times, not due to any specific information thus far learned.
Getting briefly overcome with emotion, Dean confirmed that one of his officers was shot while responding to the massacre and later died from his injuries at an area hospital.
"Sheriff's Sgt. Ron Helus, a veteran of 29 years, and a patrolman entered the bar after hearing more gunshots. When they went through the front door, Helus was struck multiple times by gunfire. The patrolmen rescued the deputy from the line of gunfire and he was taken to a local hospital, where he died early Thursday," reports Fox News.
"I knew it was live, knew it was real," said a 56-year-old witness, speaking to KABC-TV. "He [the gunman] didn't say anything at all. He just started shooting."
"While I was inside I would say [I heard]…about a good 30 seconds [of gunshots]…he had two rounds that I know with him. He changed them within about six seconds, which was really fast," said a female witness, according to Fox News. "So he knew what he was doing and he also had perfect form. When I looked back he was spot on."
Witness Carl Edgar, 24, said, "As far as I know, all of my friends are OK, safe. 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 worried. A lot of my friends survived Route 91. If they survived that, they’ll survive this."
"KABC-TV reports on air a gunman entered the Borderline bar in black clothing and armed with an assault weapon and opened fire," said reporter Jon Passantino on Twitter. "Witness in tears says on @ABC7 the gunman shot the bouncer, entered the bar, used smoke devices and began opening fire on young people on dance floor. It is college night at Borderline."
A 19-year-old witness said the shooter was in a black hoodie and beanie. After he entered the bar, he walked up to the front desk and fired "3-4 rounds at an employee," reported Passantino. "He said he heard about 30 shots fired."
Witnesses spoke to reporters in the direct aftermath. "The shots kept going and going and going," one young female recounted. "All of a sudden everyone screamed, 'get down.' Everyone on the dance floor ran off the dance floor and ducked behind something, or dog-piled on the floor somewhere," said another.
WATCH the press conference with Sheriff Geoff Dean following the shooting, below: