13 dead after shooting at a California bar during college night

VENTURA COUNTY, Calif. -- A shooter opened fire in a packed bar in Southern California during college night, killing 12 people and injuring others, authorities said.

A sergeant with the Ventura County Sheriff's Office was among the 12 killed, Sheriff Geoff Dean said during a Thursday morning news conference.

Dean confirmed the shooter is also dead.

"It's a horrific scene in there," the sheriff said. "There's blood everywhere."

When the gunfire started Wednesday night at Borderline Bar & Grill in Thousand Oaks, people who were dancing dropped to the floor and hid behind chairs and counters in stunned silence, witnesses said.

Others jumped over chairs and broke windows to get out.

Holden Harrah, who was at the bar, said the shooter walked in and opened fire within seconds.

"This guy just came out of nowhere and came out with a gun and shot people in Thousand Oaks, California," Harrah said. "And that's what's really blowing my mind, it's a really safe area."

When deputies responded to the scene, shots were still being fired, Ventura County Sheriff's Office Capt. Garo Kuredjian said at a news conference.

NBC News reports that Pepperdine University said it "has received reports that several Pepperdine students were at" the bar in question during the attack.

It was college night at the bar

The bar is a few miles from California Lutheran University, and is a popular spot for students on such nights. The western-style bar hosts theme nights such as country, salsa and swing dancing.

On Wednesday night, students had gathered for college country night, which was between 9 p.m. and 2 a.m., according to the bar's website.

"I heard a gunshot, I turned around and I saw him shoot a couple more times," student Teylor Whittler, 19, told KABC.

"Within a split second, everybody yelled 'get down'," she said.

People "dog-piled on top of each other" trying to hide in silence, she said. Some men ran toward them and said the gunman was coming.

As they escaped through the bar's back door, she heard a second round of shots.

There was no screaming, she said. Just gunfire and stampeding crowds.

"I think everyone was in so much of a shock that it was sheer panic," Whittler said.

Nick Steinwender, who is part of the university's student government, said his friends were inside the bar when the shooting started. He described what they told him to the affiliate.

"It was chaos, people jumping out of windows, hopping over gates and just trying to get out," he said. "From what I heard, the gunman started shooting at the front desk. ... Students were hiding in the attics, bathrooms and stuff like that."

Thousand Oaks is in Ventura County, about 40 miles from downtown Los Angeles.