A college night at a popular music bar in a Southern California suburb ended in bloodshed when at least 12 people were shot dead. Witnesses recounted how they hid under tables, jumped through windows and ran for their lives.
A gunman burst into the Borderline Bar and Grill in Thousand Oaks late Wednesday night, firing multiple rounds at patrons and throwing what appeared to be smoke bombs.
Teylor Whittler was celebrating her friend’s 21st birthday inside the packed Western-style bar when the shooting began.
“I was on the dance floor dancing and all of a sudden I heard the shots,” Whittler told ABC News in an interview Thursday on “Good Morning America.”
“I turned around and I saw it was an actual person with a gun and I couldn’t believe it at first, but my initial reaction was to run and take cover,” she said. “A bunch of people dog-piled on top of each other.”
Whittler recalled how some men in the crowd got down to block her and others on the ground, with their backs to the shooter, “ready to take a bullet for every single one of us.”
When there was a break in the shooting, dozens of people tried to flee out the back door and jump through windows, she said.
“I ended up getting caught on the ground and stumbled over by multiple people. I got hit in the head by a stool that was being picked up to throw through a window,” Whittler said. “Some guy came up behind me and grabbed me and said, “Get up, we have to go.'”
Whittler’s friend, Sarah Rose DeSon, said she saw what appeared to be smoke grenades.
“I was lucky enough to get out alive,” De-san said on “GMA.” “It does not feel real. I’m in shock, I’m in shock. I’m terrified.”
Their friend, Nellie Wong, whose birthday they were celebrating, said their group was at the bar with a couple of other friends whom they haven’t heard from since the gunfire broke out.
“We don’t know if they’re still in there,” Wong said. “If they got out, we don’t know where they are.”
A witness who gave only his first name, Matt, said he hid until he heard the gunman reload and then used a barstool to smash a window to help get others to safety.
“All I did was grab as many people as I could and pulled them underneath the table and then till I heard a break in the shots and then we got people out of there as much as we could,” Matt told ABC Los Angeles station KABC-TV. “I know where I’m going if I die, so I was not worried to sacrifice. So all I wanted to do was get as many people out of there as possible.”
Police said the alleged shooter was later found dead inside the bar, which hosts a college night on Wednesdays that is open to people 18 and over. At least 12 others, including a Ventura County Sheriff’s sergeant, were killed and 10 people were injured, police said.
Nick Steinwender, a student at nearby California Lutheran University, said he rushed to the scene when he heard what happened. He said many students from his school go to this bar on Wednesdays, and at least one of his friends was injured in the shooting.
“It was chaos, people jumping out of windows, people hopping over gates to get out,” Steinwender told KABC-TV. “From what I heard, gunman started shooting at front desk. Friends were reporting from inside that students people were hiding in the attic and bathrooms.”
ABC News’ Ahmad Hemingway and Emily Shapiro contributed to this report.