The gunman burst into the bar around 11:20 p.m., cloaked in all black as he threw smoke bombs and began shooting at targets as young as 18 inside the Borderline Bar & Grill, authorities and witnesses said.
Ventura County Sheriff’s Department deputies arrived and got into a firefight with the suspect, which left one deputy seriously injured, according to Capt. Garo Kuredjian, a department spokesman.
Officials said there have been fatalities but could not say how many. At least 11 people were injured, but that number is expected to rise, Kuredjian said.
Investigators believe the suspect is dead inside the bar.
The FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force had been dispatched to the scene, according to an agency spokeswoman. She could not immediately comment on a motive in the shooting. Representatives from the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives had also been dispatched.
Kuredjian said hundreds of people were inside the bar at the time of the shooting, but he could not comment on the extent of the injuries suffered by those shot. The number of people injured is likely to rise, he said, as many victims transported themselves to area hospitals and emergency rooms with injuries.
Chandler Gunn, 23, of Newberry Park, said his mom came to his room and told him about the shooting.
He called a friend who works there and was also at Route 91 in Las Vegas as he drove to the scene. She told him that some type of tear gas was thrown into the bar. She saw smoke and heard gunshots and ran out the back toward nearby apartments.
He hasn’t been able to contact her again but knows she’s safe. He said Wednesday nights that the bar, a country bar with line dancing, is open to people 18 and over.
“A lot of people in the Route 91 situation go here,” he said, referring to the mass shooting last year in Las Vegas. “There’s people that live a whole lifetime without seeing this, and then there’s people that have seen it twice.”