The shooting came just over a year after 58 people were killed at a country music festival in Las Vegas when a gunman opened fire from a high-rise hotel room. There was an eerie parallel between the two shootings as some of the same people who emerged from the bar, the Borderline Bar & Grill, described having survived the shooting on the Las Vegas Strip.
Witnesses recalled a chaotic scene at the bar, which was filled with hundreds of people, many of them college students: A gunman opening fire, first at a security guard, as patrons dropped to the dance floor, hid under tables and broke windows to escape.
The number of people wounded in the shooting on Wednesday was unclear, but the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office said about 22 people had been taken to various hospitals.
“He died a hero because he went, he went in to save lives, to save other people’s lives,” Sheriff Dean said.
Sheriff Dean said Mr. Long first shot a security officer outside the club and then walked inside, turned to the right and shot “other security and employees” before starting to fire on patrons in the main part of the club.
“I just started hearing these big pops,” said a witness interviewed by a local television station. The gunman also used smoke bombs, said the man, who was not identified, a detail that the sheriff could not confirm.
“He just kept firing,” the witness said, adding that “people were trying to get out the window” to run away from the gunman, who had “a big handgun.”
Chyann Worrell, a junior at California State University Channel Islands, said she was at the bar to celebrate the 21st birthday of her friend Nellie Wong for a night of line-dancing with a live D.J. Shortly after 11 p.m., Ms. Worrell said, the gunman, wearing dark clothing and a dark baseball cap, drew his gun. He aimed it at a man near the front of the bar.
One young woman inside the bar, Teylor Whittler, said the gunman appeared focused and did not appear to be targeting anyone in particular.
She said she saw him quickly reload his gun and fire again. “He knew what he was doing,” she said. “He had perfect form.”
“People started running to the back door,” she said, and she heard someone shout, “Get out — he’s coming.” She then fled and heard another burst of gunfire.