Tearful witnesses have described the moment a relaxing night out with friends turned into a bloodbath as a gunman killed 11 people at bar in California before being shot dead.
College students at the Borderline Bar and Grill, in Thousand Oaks, told how they were dancing one moment and fleeing for their lives the next as they watched a doorman and cashier struck by a hail of bullets.
As the gunman stopped to reload, one man called Matt said he used a bar stool to smash one of the windows and help 30 people run to safety.
Another, Teylor Whittler, said she got a good look at the gunman who was shooting with ‘perfect form’ and ‘knew exactly what he was doing’.
One witness described how he was standing near the entrance of the bar with his stepdad when he heard ‘big pops’ and saw a bouncer and a female cashier get shot
Teylor Whittler (pictured with her father) said she was on the dance floor when the shooting started, adding that the gunman ‘knew exactly what he was doing’
Teylor, a 19-year-old who was on the dance floor when gunshots rang out, said: ‘I was on the dance floor dancing at the time and then all my friends were at the table right by the door and then I heard the gunshot.
‘I turned around and I saw him shoot a couple more times and within a split second, everyone yelled “get down”.
‘So I ran to the left of the dance floor where the back door is and everyone pretty much piled on top of each other and then it was silent for a couple of seconds.
‘Then all of a sudden, a couple of guys that were closer to the bar, they got up and started running towards the back door, saying “get up, he’s coming.”
‘So it was huge panic, everyone was trying to get up… some guy came behind me, lifted me up and said “let’s go.”
‘I got a bar stool thrown at my head because they were trying to break the window to get out. And we finally made it out, ran up the hill.’
After making it out of the bar, Teylor described hearing a second round of gunshots before making her way over to the police.
Describing the gunman, she said he appeared Caucasian and was wearing a dark mask on the bottom half of his face, a baseball cap, and was dressed all in black.
She added that he reloaded his gun quickly, and that when she saw him fire he had ‘perfect form’ and ‘knew what he was doing.’
One man, named only as Matt, said he was at the back of the bar and used a stool to smash a window before helping 30 people escape
Two women who were attending a country music night at the Borderline Bar and Grill, in California, walk away from the scene after it turned into a bloodbath
A witness who gave his name only as Matt described how he threw a bar stool through a window before helping others scramble out.
‘I heard gunshots and knew right away what it was, I turned and saw a dark figure, and decided to get out of there as soon as I could,’ he said.
Asked what made him decide to go back and help others, he added: ‘Instinct, that’s all that I could do. I had to protect my friends and family, my fellow humans.
‘All I wanted to do was get as many people out as possible. I know where I’m going when I die, so I wasn’t afraid to sacrifice myself.’
A reporter then pointed to blood on his sleeve, which he said ‘isn’t mine’ and came from a man with a chest wound who they helped drag over to paramedics.
Fighting back tears, a third witness told how he was at the bar with his step-dad near the front door when he heard a series of ‘big pops’.
He said: ‘There was probably three or four of them, I look up, the security guard’s dead – I don’t want to say dead but he was shot, he was down.
‘The gunman was throwing smoke grenades all over the place, I saw him point at the cash register and just keep firing.
Police say 13 people were killed, including the gunman and a sheriff’s deputy, after shooting broke out around 11.20am on Wednesday
Heavily armed police, bomb squads, firefighters and paramedics swarmed the scene after reports of gunfire came in
‘I run out the front door, I hear chairs being thrown out the window, people were trying to get out of the windows.
‘And the gunman, he went behind the cash register, he kept… there were probably 12 shots before I got out the front door.’
Police say 11 people were killed by the gunman, including Ventura sheriff’s deputy Ron Helus, a 29-year veteran of the force.
The gunman was also shot dead and his body found amid the carnage inside the bar.
Police say they cannot confirm who shot him, but it is believed he turned his handgun on himself.
Another 10 to 15 people were wounded in the latest mass shooting in America.
The event comes just over a year after the deadliest mass shooting in American history during the Route 91 Harvest Music Festival in Las Vegas.
During that attack, gunman Stephen Paddock killed 51 and wounded hundreds after opening fire through the windows of his suite at the Mandalay Bay hotel.
ABC7 reported that some of those caught up in Wednesday night’s shooting were also present during that attack.
America has seen more than 300 mass shootings so far in 2018, defined as a shooting where four or more people are injured, including the gunman.
Last week, Scott Beierle shot and killed two women inside a yoga studio in Florida, wounding five others.
The week before that, 11 people were killed and seven injured when a shooter opened fire inside a synagogue in Pittsburgh in the deadliest act of anti-Semitism in US history.