Simi Valley

Witnesses Describe Chaos, Terror Inside Bar Shooting in Thousand Oaks

Twelve people, including Ventura County Sgt. Ron Helus, were killed at the Borderline Bar and Grill in Thousand Oaks after a gunman opened fire late Wednesday

Kayla Simmons was enjoying college night with friends at the Borderline Bar & Grill in Thousand Oaks when gunfire broke out.

They were dancing when they saw someone walk in and begin shooting.

"It was such a blur, it just happened," she said.

Her friend Summer said he was shooting everything.

"And we just saw smoke and we saw the shots taking off so we just tried to get down as fast as we could and get out of there."

They were among scores of people at the bar Wednesday night when a gunman threw what many thought were smoke bombs and fired bullets. Eleven people were killed along with a Ventura County Sheriff's sergeant who responded to the emergency.

The gunman was also reported dead. As sheriff's detectives, the FBI and emergency personnel converged to investigate yet another mass shooting, victims told about the harrowing ordeal.

Mitchel Hunter, 19, from Simi Valley said he saw the shooter.

"I saw him walk in, and he started shooting," Hunter said.

Cole Knapp, a freshman at Moorpark College, told The Associated Press that the shooter was wearing a black beanie and black hoodie and holding a handgun. 

"I tried to get as many people to cover as I could," Knapp said. "There was an exit right next to me, so I went through that. That exit leads to a patio where people smoke. People out there didn't really know what was going on. There's a fence right there so I said, 'Everyone get over the fence as quickly as you can, and I followed them over." 

He said that he saw a highway patrol officer nearby and yelled at him, "There's a shooter in there."

Sarah Rose DeSon, a communications major at Cal State Channel Islands from Whittier, was celebrating a friend's birthday when they heard shots. 

"I'm pretty sure I saw him. I'll never get that picture out of my head," DeSon said. "We dropped, heard gunshots, a lot of gunshots."

Other people who were at the bar broke windows and jumped out of them to escape the bar. 

"I know some people went in and knocked out, with a stool, through a window," Summer said.  

Summer said she spent time in the military years ago and instantly knew that what she heard were gunshots. 

"I heard 18 to 20 rounds at a time before I got out," she said. 

Summer and Kayla said their main concern was to take cover. They crawled behind a wooden stage inside the bar and waited until they heard more shots. 

As they were trying to hid from one place to another they got separated, but ended up finding each other again. 

"All we tried to do was get ourselves out safe and get everyone else out safe," Summer said.

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