By Lucia Binding, Sky News
Twelve people including a police officer have been killed after a former marine opened fire inside a country and western bar packed with students in California.
A sheriff’s deputy was killed by the gunman after responding to the shooting at the Borderline Bar and Grill in Thousand Oaks.
Police said 28-year-old suspect Ian David Long died in the bar and was found “down with a gunshot wound” when officers entered the building.
Ventura County sheriff Geoff Dean said it was “too early to say” if the gunman took his own life.
He said that Long had opened fire with a handgun at around 11.20pm.
“There were people hiding in restrooms, there were people hiding in attics.
“It’s a horrific scene in there. There is blood everywhere”.
He said that the loss of Sergeant Ron Helus – who had served 29 years with the force and was due to retire – was “horrific and terrible”.
A number of victims with serious injuries were rescued from the bar and taken to hospital.
At least 30 shots were fired by the gunman, sending hundreds of people toward the exits with some breaking windows to escape.
The bar had been hosting a night for university students, with country two-step lessons being offered to customers.
Witnesses said the gunman had fired several shots from a handgun before throwing smoke bombs.
People screamed and fled to all corners of the room, while a few threw barstools through the windows and helped dozens to escape.
A trail of blood was visible on the street at the entrance of the venue.
Sheriff Dean said Sergeant Helus had been on the phone to his wife when the emergency call came in, telling her: “Hey I gotta go handle a call. I love you. I’ll talk to you later.”
In April, he was found irate and acting irrationally when they were were called to his home. A mental health crisis team was called but decided Long did not need taking into custody.
President Donald Trump said that “great bravery” had been shown by police following the attack.
Offering his condolences in a tweet, he said he had been “fully briefed on the terrible shooting.”
He said: “God bless all of the victims and families of the victims. Thank you to Law Enforcement.”
One of those inside the bar at the time of the attack was Tayler Whitler, who said she saw a man enter with his face partly covered by something resembling a ski mask
Ms Whitler, 19, said he opened fire on a person working on the door, then began to shoot people at random.
“It was really, really, really shocking,” she told KABC-TV. “It looked like he knew what he was doing.”
The gunman was believed to have been confined inside the bar before being shot dead.
Police told how victims ran to a nearby petrol station to get help shortly after the gunman opened fire.
Nick Steinwender, student body president at nearby California Lutheran University, rushed to the scene when he heard about the shooting as he knew friends and fellow students were inside.
“It was chaos, people jumping out of windows, people hopping over gates to get out,” he told KABC-TV.
He said he heard from people inside that they were hiding in bathrooms and the attic of the bar.