By Stephen Sorace-Fox News
At least 12 people were killed late Wednesday night when a gunman opened fire at a nightclub in Thousand Oaks, Calif., police said.
Hundreds of people were inside the Borderline Bar & Grill for “college country night.” Shots rang out at around 11:20 p.m., Ventura County police said. Witnesses inside said patrons used chairs to break windows in an attempt to escape the gunfire.
Police told the Los Angeles Times that at least 30 shots were fired and the gunman used smoke bombs. It was unclear what type of weapon the shooter used.
Police said the shooter was dead inside the bar. It was unclear how he died.
Authorities said one deputy was among the victims. The deputy was rushed to a nearby hospital and was pronounced dead.
“There were shots fired at the Borderline Bar and Grill” at 11:20 p.m., said Kuredjian, a spokesman for the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department. “As deputies responded, they also heard shots.”
Additional units from the California Highway Patrol, Simi Valley and the F.B.I. responded, he said.
About a dozen heavily armed officers were seen lining up against a wall, appearing to prepare to storm the building. Medical workers were seen loading at least one victim onto a gurney, preparing him for transport.
Aerial footage showed armed officers entering the nightclub and numerous police vehicles outside.
Police vehicles and fire engines were seen blocking off traffic in the surrounding area.
Other officers appeared to be scattered in the vicinity.
Thousand Oaks is about 40 miles up the coast from Los Angeles.
Hundreds were reportedly inside when the shooting started. Witnesses inside the club told local news outlets that patrons used chairs to break windows and hid in the club’s attic in between rounds of gunfire.
Witnesses have described the weapon as an automatic handgun.
“I knew it was live, knew it was real,” a 56-year-old witness told KABC-TV. “He [the gunman] didn’t say anything at all. He just started shooting.”
Witnesses said many inside were college students from Pepperdine University, California State University Channel Islands and California Lutheran University.