"We can't confirm the shooter is in custody at this point", Ventura County Sheriff's Office Capt. Garo Kuredjian said at a news conference.
He first shot a security guard standing outside, then went in and opened fire on staff members and patrons, the sheriff said. "He could have, but he stayed on because he loved the fight, he loved helping people, he loved protecting people", Novak said.
Authorities and witnesses say the gunman wore dark clothing and didn't say anything as he fired inside the bar.
Nineteen-year-old Erika Sigman found herself hiding with a group of strangers, and they were holding her hands.
Witnesses said the gunman shot a bouncer and a cashier before he opened fire near the dance floor.
Teylor Whittler told KABC that she heard the initial shots and that people yelled, "Get down!" "His tactics were sound", the officer said. He said he had friends who hadn't been accounted for.
"Ron was a hardworking, dedicated sheriff's sergeant, he was totally committed". Helus and the trooper got inside the bar within 2-3 minutes of the gunshots being reported, CNN reported.
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SWAT teams have been pictured trying to surround the restaurant.
By the time they entered the bar again the gunfire had stopped, and they found 12 people dead inside, including the gunman. Helus was one of the first to confront the shooter before dying from injuries in the hospital an hour later.
Coffman says his son leaves behind a legacy of love and laughter and that he was the big brother that his two younger brothers and soon-to-be-born daughter needed. "He gave his all and tonight, as I told his wife, he died a hero because he went in to save lives, to save other people", Dean added.
President Donald Trump is offering condolences after the mass shooting overnight.
US President Donald Trump said on Twitter that he has been "fully briefed on the awful shooting".
Police said that at least 30 shots had been fired.