'It was chaos': California shooting survivors recollect their night of horror

Junie Sihlangu
Nov 08, 2018
01:46 P.M.
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On Wednesday night, 12 people were fatally shot and around 10 more were injured during a mass shooting in California. One of the victims was a Ventura County Sheriff's sergeant.


Survivors of the horrific ordeal have come out to share their experiences on that night. Some spoke of being shielded by other patrons as the shooting commenced.

The Borderline Bar and Grill in Thousand Oaks became a crime scene this week when a gunman burst inside and started firing multiple rounds at the patrons. The suspect also threw in what appeared to be smoke bombs.

One patron who survived the shooting was Teylor Whittler, 19. She was at the “College Night” event to celebrate her friend's 21st birthday.


For more on this story go to our Twitter account @amomama_usa. On Thursday, Whittler recalled on "Good Morning America:"

"I was on the dance floor dancing and all of a sudden I heard the shots. 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 also revealed how some men in the crowd got down and blocked her and others on the ground.


The men had their backs to the shooter, "ready to take a bullet for every single one of us." When the gunman stopped shooting dozens of people tried to flee out the back door and jump through windows.

Whittler recalled:

"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. Some guy came up behind me and grabbed me and said, 'Get up, we have to go.'"


Her friend, Sarah Rose DeSon, recalled seeing the smoke grenades. She shared that she was lucky to have gotten out alive and she was still in shock and terrified.

The friend who they were celebrating the 21st birthday with, Nellie Wong, shared that there were other friends who they lost in the chaos. Another patron who survived the shooting was John Hedge.


He revealed that he was with his stepdad near the bar's entrance when the shooting began. Initially, he thought it was a "joke" until he saw people dropping to the floor.

Hedge recounted:

"I was talking to my stepdad and I just started hearing these big pops. Pop, pop, pop. There was probably 12 shots before I got out the front door."


Another witness named Matt Wennerstrom shared that he had hidden until he heard the gunman reload. That’s when he grabbed a barstool to smash a window to help get others to safety.

He recalled:

"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. 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."


The police alleged that the gunman was later found dead inside an office adjacent to the entry of the bar. He was identified as Ian David Long, 28.

Long was a US Marine Corps veteran, according to Ventura County Sheriff Geoff Dean. He was allegedly armed with a legally purchased .45-caliber Glock handgun that had an extended magazine.

Survivors from the shooting said Long looked “like he knew what he was doing.” The highly decorated ex-marine's neighbors said he was plagued with PTSD and terrified his mother.

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