Body cam footage released in California Bar Massacre in 2018 | US News®


LOS ANGELES (AP) — Video from cameras worn by lawmakers responding to a mass shooting at a Southern California bar in 2018 and recordings of calls for help released Tuesday captured the chaos, horror and confusion of the massacre festival in which a dozen people died.

Frightened guests hiding from a gunman who was still stalking victims reported the shooting in whispers to dispatchers while others sobbed over the trauma of an event still unfolding. Officers found guests running for their lives and a man bleeding in the parking lot while friends tried to save him.

Footage and audio of the Borderline Bar and Grill shooting was released Tuesday by the Ventura County Sheriff after a court battle with The Associated Press and other news outlets seeking evidence under the public records laws.

While the evidence was documented in a more than 400-page report on the shooting released in July, it was the first time the video and call recordings had been released.

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Investigators concluded that Ian David Long, 28, who served as a Marine in Afghanistan, felt college students despised veterans and targeted the Thousand Oaks Country Bar because it was student night. Long took his own life while police surrounded the building on November 7, 2018.

As lines rang in a sheriff’s call center, a woman reporting the shooting whispered, “We’re hiding. The guy is probably still here.”

When a dispatcher asked another woman if she saw the shooting, she replied, “It’s still happening!”

Patrons were still running for cover when the first officers arrived.

Videos from the perspective of a dozen officers show how they were largely in the dark about what happened after one of their own, Sgt. Ronald Helus, went into the building after radioing: “We knocked out several people. We need a lot of ambulances.”

Surveillance footage showed Helus and CHP officer Todd Barrett slowly entering the bar, guns raised, and Helus scanning the darkness with a flashlight on the barrel of his rifle. Long, hiding in the office by the entrance, ambushed the men and began firing his .45 caliber semi-automatic pistol.

Barrett ran outside and began returning fire. Helus stumbled as he backed away. As he got up, he was hit by a bullet that Barrett had fired at Long.

Helus managed to roll onto his back and fire off several shots when Long shot him five times while he was on the ground. However, the coroner concluded that it was Barrett’s accidental shot that killed the veteran officer.

Some of the body cameras picked up the sporadic gunfire that erupted in the bar’s entrance.

Other cameras were either not on at the time of the shooting or were pointed at officers who arrived later.

In the silence that followed the shooting, Sgt. Laura Natoli, standing behind bushes near the bar, noticed the smoke she could see in the bar and said to a deputy, “I wonder if he done himself.”

Shortly thereafter, a man in a plaid shirt and ball cap who had been the bar emerged from the darkness behind a dumpster, startling Natoli.

“Jesus, what are you doing, dude?” She said.

The man said he was in the army and wanted to help. He said at least one, possibly two, officers were on the ground.

“I watched him,” he said. “At the door.”

Deputy Charles Gallagher, who was with Natoli, cursed.

“We don’t have any other communications from people inside, which I’m concerned about,” Natoli said.

Meanwhile, behind a patrol vehicle in which Deputy Matthew Kahn had taken cover with another officer, a shooting victim lay on the ground and sounded like he might pass out as his fellow officers applied pressure to stop the bleeding.

“Take me to the hospital,” the man said.

A woman assured him, “They’re on their way.”

Another officer who arrived told them to take him to a staging area where ambulances were arriving.

“He won’t be able to sit here,” the officer said.

The man was taken to safety. He was the only gunshot victim who survived, Cmdr. Said Jeff Miller.

At one point, Kahn, who had spoken to Barrett, was heard saying that Helus was shot. However, according to the report, his call was not forwarded.

Miller said news of Helus’ shooting was not widely shared.

“There was a lack of knowledge about Sgt. Helus being shot down and knocked down for quite a long time,” Miller said when asked about the footage and radio calls.

Most of the newly released footage ends after Natoli sends Deputy Steve Manley and another officer outside the bar with assault rifles to see if they can see any sign of Helus.

Manley’s camera catches the barrel of his rifle as he moves in the shadows, ducking behind a low wall and bushes in front of the bar.

Pointing his gun at the entrance, he reported that nothing had moved. Then a bang was heard inside the building.

“I just had a shot,” he said on his radio — a transmission heard in the other videos.

The shot took Long’s own life, Miller said.

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