A shooting at a bar in Thousand Oaks, California Wednesday night is being called the worst mass shooting the country has seen — in the past 12 days.
According to witnesses, a lone gunman dressed in all black charged into the crowded Borderline Bar & Grill, which was hosting a college country western night, a little after 11 p.m. and shot the cashier and doorman before throwing smoke grenades into the mass of people and opening fire. Police did not immediately confirm those claims but said at least 11 people and the gunman were killed in the attack, the latter reportedly from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Several others were injured.
Police identified the shooter as 28-year-old David Ian Long, who went by the name “Ian.” Long, who is white, reportedly used a .45-caliber Glock handgun with an extended magazine to carry out the shooting. The weapon was purchased legally, they said, although extended magazines are themselves illegal.
A police officer, Sgt. Ron Helus, was one of those killed in the attack after being struck by multiple bullets upon arriving at the scene. He had served on the force for 29 years and was reportedly set to retire next year.
Ventura County Sheriff Geoff Dean called Helus a “hero.”
— Los Angeles Times (@latimes) November 8, 2018
Little is known about the other victims, though friends said many of those inside the bar at the time of the attack had survived the Route 91 Harvest Music Festival shooting in Las Vegas last October. Fifty-eight people were killed in that attack and 851 injured after a lone gunman opened fire from a nearby hotel onto a crowd of concert-goers.
“A lot of people in the Route 91 situation go here,” 23-year-old Chandler Gunn, whose friend worked at the bar, told The Los Angeles Times. “There’s people that live a whole lifetime without seeing this, and then there’s people that have seen it twice.”
Gunn said his friend had managed to escape the building during the shooting, running out the back door and seeking refuge at a nearby apartment building.
Savannah Stafseth, who also spoke with the Times, said she was on the bar’s patio when she heard loud gunshots and people yelling.
“It’s college night, it was insanely crowded,” she said. “There are no words. Those are my people. It’s just not fair. It’s not fair. All these people after Route 91. It’s not fair.”
The shooting in Thousand Oaks is the worst mass shooting since October 27 — less than two weeks ago — when a gunman stormed into the conservative Jewish Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, killing 11 people. Police said the gunman had expressed violent, anti-Semitic, far-right views on social media prior to the attack.
The two shootings mark the 297th and 298th mass shootings in the United States since the start of 2018, according to the Gun Violence Archive. The database defines mass shootings as those in which four or more people were shot, not including the shooter.
According to NBC News, Thousand Oaks is considered one of the safest cities in the country. “I’ve been a cop for 41 years,” Sheriff Dean said. “But I’ve learned it doesn’t matter what community you’re in, it doesn’t matter how safe your community is, it can happen anywhere.”
This article has been updated to include additional information about the shooter.