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Gunman dead after killing 12 in bar filled with college students

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Attacker kills 12 at California country music bar, found dead after police arrive

THOUSAND OAKS, CALIFORNIA: He wore black clothes, a black baseball cap and a mask partially covering his face.

His first move as he entered the Borderline Bar and Grill in Thousand Oaks was shoot the bouncer. It is not known if the bouncer survived.

But by the time the gunman was done, 12 people, including a police officer, lay dead.

When police entered the country music bar, they found the gunman dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound, said Ventura County Sheriff Geoff Dean.

The attacker was later identified as 28-year-old Ian David Long, a US Marine Corp veteran.

Soon after the shooting started, Sergeant Ron Helus, a veteran of 29 years, was first on the scene and entered the bar with another policeman.

He was immediately shot multiple times. Though he was pulled out of the line of fire, he died in hospital yesterday.

Sheriff Dean said : "Ron was a hardworking dedicated sheriff sergeant. He was totally committed. He gave his all. And tonight, as I told his wife, he died a hero because he went in to save lives. To save other people."

Ms Teylor Whittler managed to escape the carnage unhurt.

"It was really, really shocking…I never thought something like this would happen," said Ms Whittler, who was inside when the shooting started.

Ms Whittler said she didn't have time "to think about why this is happening," and just focused on a way to "get out."

She said the gunman "knew what he was doing," Fox News reported.

"While I was inside I would say …about a good 30 seconds …he had two (magazines) that I know with him. He changed them within about six seconds, which was really fast," she said. "So he knew what he was doing, and he also had perfect form."

Witnesses said that the gunman threw several smoke grenades before he started shooting at around 11.20pm on Wednesday night (3.20pm yesterday, Singapore time), reported AFP.

"It's a horrific scene in there. There is blood everywhere," Sheriff Dean told reporters.

"We have no idea if there is a terrorism link to this or not. As you know, these are ongoing investigations and that information will come out as soon as we are able to determine exactly who the suspect was and what motive he might have had for this horrific event.

"Nothing has led me or the FBI to believe there is a terrorism link here. We certainly will look at that option."

The venue in the quiet, upscale Thousand Oaks suburb was hosting an event for college students, with several hundred young people in attendance.

Mr Matt Wennerstron, a 20-year-old college student and regular at the bar, said the shooter fired a short-barrelled pistol that apparently had a 10 to 15-round magazine.

"It was just semi-automatic, as many shots as he could pull, and then when it started to reload that's when we got people out of there."

He said he and others smashed their way out of the bar onto a balcony and then jumped down to safety.

The attack is the latest chapter in America's epidemic of gun violence. Only 10 days ago, a gunman killed 11 worshippers at a synagogue in Pittsburgh. - AFP