The Ventura County community was flipped upside down late Wednesday night - college country music night at Borderline Bar & Grill where almost 200 people were trapped inside when a gunman armed with a Glock.45 caliber handgun opened fire.
The gunman, identified by police as 28-year-old Ian David Long, was found dead of an apparently self-inflicted gunshot wound following the Wednesday night massacre at Borderline Bar and Grill in Thousand Oaks, a suburb 64km northwest of downtown Los Angeles, law enforcement officials said.
At least 12 people have been killed, including a police officer, at a country music bar in Thousand Oaks, California.
Helus was a 29-year veteran of the force with a wife and son and planned to retire in the coming year, said the sheriff, choking back tears.
"He went in there to save people and made the ultimate sacrifice", Dean said. "We haven't found any correlation", the sheriff said. It's unclear whether he took his own life or if the attack was terror-related.
Dean described the scene inside the bar as "like hell". "There is blood everywhere", Sheriff Dean told reporters. "I just started hearing these big pops. Pop, pop, pop. There was probably three or four, I hit the ground", John Hedge told CNN affiliate KABC.
After a man fatally shot 11 worshipers at a Pittsburgh synagogue last month, US President Donald Trump said their deaths could have been prevented if there had been an armed guard inside the temple.
A next-door neighbor said he called authorities about six months ago when he heard loud banging and shouting come from Long's ranch-style home.
Adam Housley, a former Fox News correspondent, and Tamera Mowry-Housley, an actress known for the 1990s TV series "Sister Sister", said their niece was killed at the bar where she had gone line dancing with friends.
People comfort each other as they sit near the scene Thursday, Nov. 8, 2018, in Thousand Oaks, California where a gunman opened fire Wednesday inside a country dance bar crowded with hundreds of people. "And that's what's really blowing my mind, it's a really safe area".
"And then after we had gotten everyone, the few boys that were shuffling people through, we basically jumped out the window and then just pushed everyone down the side along the fence towards the parking lot".
The presence of police officers among the crowd recalls the Las Vegas shooting in October 2017, when many first responders were enjoying the Route 91 Harvest country music festival when a gunman began firing from a nearby hotel.
They have not yet confirmed any motive behind the attack.
Twenty-three people were injured - some from "jumping out of windows, diving under tables", Dean said - and treated at area hospitals.
Ron Helus and a passing highway patrolman were responding to several 911 calls late Wednesday night when they showed up at the Borderline Bar & Grill in Thousand Oaks, California.
"He was excited to get out so he could go back home, ride his motorcycle again and finish school", Kellogg said. She said she hid with a group of strangers and they were holding hands.
He first fired on a person working the door, then appeared to shoot at random at people inside, they said. She was concerned about Long, the neighbor said, but she was not anxious about her own safety. "And he didn't come last night", she told the Times.