13 Dead Including Sheriff's Sergeant and Suspect in Shooting in Southern California Bar

Thousand Oaks Shooting

The shooter was found dead inside, authorities said.

Thirteen people including a sheriff's deputy and the gunman were killed in a shooting in a crowded bar late Wednesday night, reports CBS Los Angeles. The shooter was found dead inside, authorities said. 

The station said one person was seen -- apparently lifeless -- on the ground outside the bar's entrance.

Ventura County Sheriff Geoff Dean told reporters early Thursday his colleague died at a hospital. He was identified as Sheriff's Sgt. Ron Helus, a 29-year veteran about a year from retiring.

His voice cracking, Dean described Helus as a friend. "I told his wife he died a hero -- he went in to save lives," Dean said. Helus is survived by a wife and son.

Dean said, "It's a horrific scene in there. There's blood everywhere."

He said the gunman had apparently shot himself.

Dean added that the shooter's motive wasn't known and it wasn't clear if it was a case of terrorism. 

He said the only weapon found in an initial sweep was a handgun. Witnesses said the shots sounded like they were coming from a semi-automatic weapon.

In addition to those who died, injured or wounded patrons were brought to hospitals or went to them on their own.

Ventura County Sheriff's deputies responded to the Borderline  Bar and Grill, some 40 miles west of L.A., at about 11:20 p.m.  

Sheriff's Capt. Garo Kuredjian said deputies could hear gunfire when they arrived.  

Ventura County Sheriff Geoff Dean briefs reporters at the intersection of US 101 freeway and the Moorpark Rad exit as police vehicles close off the area responding to a shooting at a bar in Thousand Oaks, California, on Nov. 8, 2018. - FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images

There were roughly 200 people in the bar for a popular weekly "College Country" night, police said. 

The gunman threw smoke bombs when he entered, perhaps to cause confusion, CBS L.A. reported. Witnesses told the station some people broke windows to get out or smashed windows so others could flee.

The father of one patron told CBS L.A. his daughter told him the gunman "knew what he was doing" and came in "with a purpose." 

A witness told the station, "There were people in the middle dancing and just hanging out and having a good time" when "very, very loud gunshots" rang out inside.

Numerous law enforcement agencies were on-scene, including the FBI and the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. National Guard members were assisting, as well.

Patrons were seen being led out of the bar by deputies.

This story was originally published by CBS News on Nov. 8, 2018 at 3:15 a.m. ET.