(Update: Suspect identified as Ian David Long, 28, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran who may have suffered from PTSD. He was known to police, who once checked on him following a report of erratic behavior. The gunman used a Glock 21 .45-caliber pistol that was purchased legally. It's not clear why he targeted this particular bar.)
(CNSNews.com) - Witnesses describe a scene of panic in Thousand Oaks, California Wednesday night, when a lone gunman walked into the Borderline country-western bar on "college night" and fired a handgun into the crowd.
The man, still not identified, killed at least 12 people, including a sheriff's deputy, Sgt. Ron Helus, who was the first to respond. Witnesses said a security guard and the cashier, a young woman, are also among the dead. The shooter was later found dead inside the bar, but police aren’t sure if he shot himself.
Another 10 to 15 people were taken to area hospitals for treatment of various injuries.
Ventura County Sheriff Geoff Dean said he has no idea if there is a terrorism link, but that is being investigated.
"I only mention it might be terrorist because that's where we all go these days when we have multiple shootings like this, (and) there's no reason for it, we have this horrific death. I have nothing to lead me to believe, or the FBI, that there is any terrorism link here, but we'll certainly will look at that option."
"It's a horrific scene in there. There's blood everywhere," Dean added.
He summed up the situation this way:
"I've been a cop for 41 years, and I never thought I would see the things around the country that would happen. But I’ve learned it doesn't matter what community you're in, it doesn't matter how safe your community is, it could happen anywhere. Because obviously for someone to do this, they have to have some sort of mental illness, and sadly, we have people with mental illness all over the country."
Sheriff Dean called the situation tragic. He said the murdered sergeant was his friend and workout partner, a 29-year veteran of the force, a married father of one son, who was planning to retire in a year or so.
“But there's also parents of those 11 other victims in there whose hearts are ripped out tonight. And I know there's parents wondering, oh my gosh, was one of my children in there or was it my sister or my brother? So there's just no way to describe this. It saddens us all, and it tears at our hearts and emotions as it should. And if we ever get to the point where it doesn't, then there's something wrong with us.”
A reporter asked Dean if Thousand Oaks is a safe community:
“The question – is Thousand Oaks a safe community, what do I make of this? I make that it’s a horrific incident," Dean said. "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 any sense to the senseless.”
President Trump tweeted Thursday morning: "I have been fully briefed on the terrible shooting in California. Law Enforcement and First Responders, together with the FBI, are on scene. 13 people, at this time, have been reported dead. Likewise, the shooter is dead, along with the first police officer to enter the bar....Great bravery shown by police. California Highway Patrol was on scene within 3 minutes, with first officer to enter shot numerous times. That Sheriff’s Sergeant died in the hospital. God bless all of the victims and families of the victims. Thank you to Law Enforcement."