Twelve people including a police officer were killed by a veteran of the Marines at a crowded bar in Thousand Oaks, California, late Wednesday, officials said.
Several hundred people were inside the venue, which was hosting a “college country night” for students, police said.
Ventura County Sheriff Geoff Dean described the incident at the Borderline Bar and Grill as a “tragic, tragic situation.”
The shooter was found dead at the scene from a gunshot wound. Dean named the suspect as Ian Long, 28, who is a veteran of the Marines. Several law enforcement officials had earlier said he was aged 29.
Long has a history of run-ins with the police as recently as April this year, when deputies were called to his house after reports of a disturbance, Dean said.
Long was “somewhat irate,” and “acting a little irrationally,” according to the sheriff, but he was assessed by a mental health specialist who cleared him and didn’t feel further action could be taken.
Other than that, police have had “several contacts” with Long over the years, described by Dean as “minor events” such as a traffic collision and he was a victim of a battery at a local bar in 2015.
Police were at his house Thursday morning and seeking a search warrant as part of the investigation.
The weapon Long used for Wednesday night’s shooting was a Glock 21 handgun with an extended magazine, Dean said.
Law enforcement officials had earlier described him as a heavily tattooed white male. He was armed with a single handgun, was apparently not carrying a driver’s license or any other form of ID, Dean said on “Today.”
President Donald Trump sent two tweets paying tributes to the authorities and victims. He praised the “great bravery shown by police” and said “God bless all of the victims and families of the victims.”
The police officer killed was named as Sgt. Ron Helus, a 29-year police veteran with a wife and son who was looking to retire in the next year.
“He was hard-working, he was totally committed, he gave his all and, tonight, as I told his wife, he died a hero,” an emotional Dean said. “He gave his life to save other people.”
Helus, 54, arrived at the scene alongside a colleague from the California Highway Patrol within three minutes of reports of shots being fired at around 11:20 p.m. (2:20 a.m. ET Thursday), according to Dean.
After hearing more gunfire, Helus and the Highway Patrol officer entered the building and Helus “was struck multiple times with gunfire,” according to Dean.
One college student who said he was a regular at the Borderline told the channel he had at least 10 friends inside.
“No one’s gotten back to me,” he said on camera without giving his name. “I’d like to hope for the best, but I have no idea.”
The venue opened in 1993 and describes itself as a “haven for country line dancing folks of all ages.” It says it’s hosted many famous acts including The Beach Boys.
Thousand Oaks was ranked the third-safest city in the United States this year, according to the data analysis website Niche.
It is the 307th mass shooting in the United States this year, according to the Gun Violence Archive.