What we know about the Thousand Oaks bar shooting

A college country night at a bar in Thousand Oaks, California, turned deadly late Wednesday when a gunman forced his way in and opened fire on the young people gathered there. At least 12 people were killed.

Here’s what we know:

How the shooting unfolded

The first call of shots fired came in to police Wednesday at 11:20 p.m. PT (2:20 a.m. ET, Thursday), Ventura County Sheriff Geoff Dean said.

The gunman shot a bouncer or security guard outside and forced his way into the bar, witnesses said.

Officers arrived on the scene 2 to 3 minutes after the initial call to law enforcement as shots continued to ring out, Dean has said.

The gunman also shot a young woman working at the counter just inside the door, several witnesses said.

“I see that girl every single time I’m there,” witness Holden Harrah told CNN, fighting back tears. “I don’t know her name, but (she) is someone I make small contact with and I say hi every time.”

The gunman

The shooter, using a short-barreled handgun, wore a black trench coat and eyeglasses and had a black beard, witnesses said.

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The shooter was found dead at the scene, officials said. It’s not yet clear whether he shot himself or was killed by police.

He has not been identified. “We don’t know anything about him yet,” Dean said early Thursday.

The victims

At least 12 people were killed, including Ventura County Sheriff’s Sgt. Ron Helus, a 29-year law enforcement veteran.

Helus, who was set to retire within the next year, was shot multiple times as he entered the bar with a California Highway Patrol officer, Dean said.

The victims’ ages weren’t immediately known, though it’s estimated most were between 21 and 26 years old because “this is a nightclub,” he said.

Several other victims were wounded or sustained minor injuries trying to escape the shooting, Dean said.

The bar

Borderline Bar & Grill in Thousand Oaks is a western-themed establishment known to regularly host country, salsa and swing dancing nights.

The venue was hosting a college country night from 9 p.m. PT on Wednesday to 2 a.m. on Thursday when the shooting occurred, according to its website. Hundreds of people were estimated to have attended.

The bar is a few miles from California Lutheran University and is a popular spot for students. Some students from California Lutheran and nearby Pepperdine University are believed to have been at Wednesday night’s event.

Some freshmen had planned an outing Wednesday to the bar, said Madeleine Carr, news editor at the Pepperdine Graphic, the student newspaper.

“I was going to go with them tonight but decided not to because of homework,” she told CNN, “but it is a popular place to go because it’s local, and we do have a lot of people from the South — it’s line dancing it attracts them.”