Police officers secure the road leading to the Borderline Bar and Grill where a gunman shot people in Thousand Oaks, California, the United State, Nov. 8, 2018. A total of 13 people were confirmed dead in a mass shooting Wednesday night in the city of Thousand Oaks in Southern California, including an officer and a gunman, local authorities said. (Xinhua/Zhao Hanrong)
LOS ANGELES, Nov. 8 (Xinhua) -- Thirteen people were confirmed dead in a mass shooting Wednesday night in the city of Thousand Oaks in Southern California, including an officer and a gunman, local authorities said.
Ventura County Sheriff Geoff Dean told the press that deputies responded to multiple reports of gunshots fired at Borderline Bar and Grill around 11:30 p.m. local time (0730 GMT, Thursday).
Deputy Sgt. Ron Helus went into the bar with another highway patrol officer. Helus was shot several times and later died in hospital, Dean said.
At least 11 people were wounded, according to Dean.
"It's a horrific scene in there," the sheriff said. "There is blood everywhere."
Madison Cummings, an eyewitness at the bar, told Xinhua that the shooter had a beard and short black hair, wore all black and held a black handgun.
"At first sight, I thought it was a joke, because the music did not stop. But later I smelled the gun fire, then I knew it's real," she said.
"We immediately ducked down, freaking out," she said. As soon as the shooter was outside her eyesight, Cummings got up and went up to the door.
She sat in her car parked in front of the bar for 45 minutes until the cops walked her and others to safety.
Helus was a 29-year veteran who was set to retire next year.
"Ron was a hardworking, dedicated sheriff's sergeant. He was totally committed, he gave his all and tonight, as I told his wife, he died a hero. He went in to save lives, to save other people," Dean said, choking up.
Dean said it was not clear whether the gunman killed himself or was killed by officers. The identification of the shooter remains unknown, and it is unclear whether the shooting was terrorism related, he added.
President Donald Trump said on Twitter that he has been "fully briefed on the terrible shooting in California."
Thousand Oaks ranked third on a list of the safest cities in the United States in 2018, according to the website Niche.
The United States has one of the highest gun-related death tolls in the world due to lax gun control laws, according to a study released in August by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington.
A series of shootings have occurred in the past weeks. On Friday, a man killed himself after shooting at least five people at a yoga studio in Tallahassee, Florida. On Oct. 29, a student died after being shot at a high school in North Carolina.
On Oct. 27, a gunman opened fire inside a synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, killing at least 11 people and injuring six others. The gunman was charged with dozens of counts, including religious hate crimes.