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Thousand Oaks shooting survivor: 'I heard what I thought was a balloon pop'

Thousand Oaks shooting survivor: 'I heard what I thought was a balloon pop'

A woman who survived Wednesday's deadly mass shooting at a California country bar gave a chilling account of the attack, which claimed at least 12 victims.

Taylor Von Molt, a 21-year-old patron who was at Borderline Bar & Grill in Thousand Oaks when shots rang out, told CNN that at first, she mistook the gunfire for the sound of a popping balloon.

"It's a country bar so we were line dancing, and I heard what I thought was a balloon pop," Von Molt said. "I was confused because we didn’t have any balloons at the time ... I turned around and saw him fire his weapon a couple of times and I ran to the nearest exit and tripped and fell on the way."

Once Von Molt was able to escape the venue, she said she ran up a hill to a nearby apartment block and took shelter until authorities arrived.

Borderline Bar & Grill was reportedly packed with over a hundred patrons, most of them who turned out for the bar's weekly "college night" on Wednesday night, when the shooting unfolded.

Photos from the scene: 

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Mass shooting at Borderline Bar and Grill in Thousands Oaks, California

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THOUSAND OAKS, CA - NOVEMBER 08: Tim Dominguez who was in the bar with his son distraught over the shooting sits under the freeway after a gunman opened fire late Wednesday at a Thousand Oaks bar packed with hundreds of people attending a popular event for college students, causing multiple fatalities on November 8, 2018 in Thousand Oaks, California. The gunman burst into the bar around 11:20 p.m., cloaked in all black as he threw smoke bombs and began shooting at targets as young as 18 inside the Borderline Bar & Grill, authorities and witnesses said. (Photo by Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

In this image taken from video a victim is treated near the scene of a shooting, Wednesday evening, Nov. 7, 2018, in Thousand Oaks, Calif. A hooded gunman dressed entirely in black opened fire on a crowd at a country dance bar holding a weekly "college night" in Southern California, killing multiple people and sending hundreds fleeing including some who used barstools to break windows and escape, authorities said Thursday. The gunman was later found dead at the scene. (RMG News via AP)

In this image taken from video a victim is carried from the scene of a shooting, Wednesday evening, Nov. 7, 2018, in Thousand Oaks, Calif. A hooded gunman dressed entirely in black opened fire on a crowd at a country dance bar holding a weekly "college night" in Southern California, killing multiple people and sending hundreds fleeing including some who used barstools to break windows and escape, authorities said Thursday. The gunman was later found dead at the scene. (RMG News via AP)

In this image taken from video a victim is treated near the scene of a shooting, Wednesday evening, Nov. 7, 2018, in Thousand Oaks, Calif. A hooded gunman dressed entirely in black opened fire on a crowd at a country dance bar holding a weekly "college night" in Southern California, killing multiple people and sending hundreds fleeing including some who used barstools to break windows and escape, authorities said Thursday. The gunman was later found dead at the scene. (RMG News via AP)

THOUSAND OAKS, CA - NOVEMBER 08: Police work int he area after a gunman opened fire late Wednesday at a Thousand Oaks bar packed with hundreds of people attending a popular event for college students, causing multiple fatalities on November 8, 2018 in Thousand Oaks, California. The gunman burst into the bar around 11:20 p.m., cloaked in all black as he threw smoke bombs and began shooting at targets as young as 18 inside the Borderline Bar & Grill, authorities and witnesses said. (Photo by Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

THOUSAND OAKS, CA - NOVEMBER 08: Security patrol after a gunman opened fire late Wednesday at a Thousand Oaks bar packed with hundreds of people attending a popular event for college students, causing multiple fatalities on November 8, 2018 in Thousand Oaks, California. The gunman burst into the bar around 11:20 p.m., cloaked in all black as he threw smoke bombs and began shooting at targets as young as 18 inside the Borderline Bar & Grill, authorities and witnesses said. (Photo by Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

THOUSAND OAKS, CA - NOVEMBER 08: Sarah Rose DeSon talks to friends after a shooter wounded seven Wednesday night on November 8, 2018 in Thousand Oaks, California. The gunman burst into the bar around 11:20 p.m., cloaked in all black as he threw smoke bombs and began shooting at targets as young as 18 inside the Borderline Bar & Grill, authorities and witnesses said. (Photo by Al Seib / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

THOUSAND OAKS, CA - NOVEMBER 08: People leave the scene after a shooter wounded seven Wednesday night on November 8, 2018 in Thousand Oaks, California. The gunman burst into the bar around 11:20 p.m., cloaked in all black as he threw smoke bombs and began shooting at targets as young as 18 inside the Borderline Bar & Grill, authorities and witnesses said. (Photo by Al Seib / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

THOUSAND OAKS, CA - NOVEMBER 08: Molly Esterline is hugged by David Crawford on scene after a shooter wounded seven Wednesday night on November 8, 2018 in Thousand Oaks, California. The gunman burst into the bar around 11:20 p.m., cloaked in all black as he threw smoke bombs and began shooting at targets as young as 18 inside the Borderline Bar & Grill, authorities and witnesses said. (Photo by Al Seib / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

Jason Coffman displays a photo of his son Cody outside the Thousands Oaks Teene Center where he came hoping to find his son who was at the Borderline Bar and Grill in Thousand Oaks, California, on November 8, 2018. - Twelve people, including a police sergeant, were shot dead in a shooting at the bar close to Los Angeles, police said Thursday. All the victims were killed inside the bar in the suburb of Thousand Oaks late on November 7, including the officer who had been called to the scene, Sheriff Geoff Dean told reporters. The gunman was also dead at the scene, Dean added. (Photo by Frederic J. BROWN / AFP) (Photo credit should read FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images)

An FBI agent talks to a potential witness as they stand near the scene Thursday, Nov. 8, 2018, in Thousand Oaks, Calif. where a gunman opened fire Wednesday inside a country dance bar crowded with hundreds of people on "college night," wounding 11 people including a deputy who rushed to the scene. Ventura County sheriff's spokesman says gunman is dead inside the bar. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

People comfort each other as they stand near the scene Thursday, Nov. 8, 2018, in Thousand Oaks, Calif. where a gunman opened fire Wednesday inside a country dance bar crowded with hundreds of people on "college night," wounding 11 people including a deputy who rushed to the scene. Ventura County sheriff's spokesman says gunman is dead inside the bar. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

People comfort each other as they sit near the scene Thursday, Nov. 8, 2018, in Thousand Oaks, Calif. where a gunman opened fire Wednesday inside a country dance bar crowded with hundreds of people on "college night," wounding 11 people including a deputy who rushed to the scene. Ventura County sheriff's spokesman says gunman is dead inside the bar. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

THOUSAND OAKS, CA - NOVEMBER 08: FBI setup for investigation at the Borderline and its parking lot after a gunman opened fire late Wednesday at a Thousand Oaks bar packed with hundreds of people attending a popular event for college students, causing multiple fatalities on November 8, 2018 in Thousand Oaks, California. The gunman burst into the bar around 11:20 p.m., cloaked in all black as he threw smoke bombs and began shooting at targets as young as 18 inside the Borderline Bar & Grill, authorities and witnesses said. (Photo by Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

THOUSAND OAKS, CA - NOVEMBER 08: Police work in the area after a gunman opened fire late Wednesday at a Thousand Oaks bar packed with hundreds of people attending a popular event for college students, causing multiple fatalities on November 8, 2018 in Thousand Oaks, California. The gunman burst into the bar around 11:20 p.m., cloaked in all black as he threw smoke bombs and began shooting at targets as young as 18 inside the Borderline Bar & Grill, authorities and witnesses said. (Photo by Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

THOUSAND OAKS, CA - NOVEMBER 08: Witnesses console each other near the Borderline Bar & Grill after a shooter wounded seven Wednesday night on November 8, 2018 in Thousand Oaks, California. The gunman burst into the bar around 11:20 p.m., cloaked in all black as he threw smoke bombs and began shooting at targets as young as 18 inside the Borderline Bar & Grill, authorities and witnesses said. (Photo by Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

THOUSAND OAKS, CA - NOVEMBER 08: Police work in the area with dogs after a gunman opened fire late Wednesday at a Thousand Oaks bar packed with hundreds of people attending a popular event for college students, causing multiple fatalities on November 8, 2018 in Thousand Oaks, California. The gunman burst into the bar around 11:20 p.m., cloaked in all black as he threw smoke bombs and began shooting at targets as young as 18 inside the Borderline Bar & Grill, authorities and witnesses said. (Photo by Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

THOUSAND OAKS, CA - NOVEMBER 08: A man speaks with law enforcement personnel as people stand along South Moorpark Road after a gunman opened fire late Wednesday at a Thousand Oaks bar packed with hundreds of people attending a popular event for college students, causing multiple fatalities on November 8, 2018 in Thousand Oaks, California. The gunman burst into the bar around 11:20 p.m., cloaked in all black as he threw smoke bombs and began shooting at targets as young as 18 inside the Borderline Bar & Grill, authorities and witnesses said. (Photo by Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

THOUSAND OAKS, CA - NOVEMBER 08: Nellie Wong cries as Chyann Worrell holds her and Erika Sigman (R) were all inside when shooting started inside the Borderline Bar & Grill when a shooter wounded seven Wednesday night on November 8, 2018 in Thousand Oaks, California. The gunman burst into the bar around 11:20 p.m., cloaked in all black as he threw smoke bombs and began shooting at targets as young as 18 inside the Borderline Bar & Grill, authorities and witnesses said. (Photo by Al Seib / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

An American Red Cross Disaster Relief vehicle is seen outside the Thousands Oaks Teen Center where people have come for family assistance following the bar shooting at the Borderline Bar and Grill in Thousand Oaks, California on November 8, 2018. - Twelve people, including a police sergeant, were shot dead in a shooting at the bar close to Los Angeles, police said Thursday. All the victims were killed inside the bar in the suburb of Thousand Oaks late on November 7, including the officer who had been called to the scene, Sheriff Geoff Dean told reporters. The gunman was also dead at the scene, Dean added. (Photo by Frederic J. BROWN / AFP) (Photo credit should read FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images)

People comfort each other as they stand near the scene Thursday, Nov. 8, 2018, in Thousand Oaks, Calif. where a gunman opened fire Wednesday inside a country dance bar crowded with hundreds of people on "college night," wounding 11 people including a deputy who rushed to the scene. Ventura County sheriff's spokesman says gunman is dead inside the bar. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

In this image taken from video a victim is treated near the scene of a shooting, Wednesday evening, Nov. 7, 2018, in Thousand Oaks, Calif. A hooded gunman dressed entirely in black opened fire on a crowd at a country dance bar holding a weekly "college night" in Southern California, killing multiple people and sending hundreds fleeing including some who used barstools to break windows and escape, authorities said Thursday. The gunman was later found dead at the scene. (RMG News via AP)

People walk away from the scene Thursday, Nov. 8, 2018, in Thousand Oaks, Calif. where a gunman opened fire Wednesday inside a country dance bar crowded with hundreds of people on "college night," wounding 11 people including a deputy who rushed to the scene. Ventura County sheriff's spokesman says gunman is dead inside the bar. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

People walk away from the scene Thursday, Nov. 8, 2018, in Thousand Oaks, Calif. where a gunman opened fire Wednesday inside a country dance bar crowded with hundreds of people on "college night," wounding 11 people including a deputy who rushed to the scene. Ventura County sheriff's spokesman says gunman is dead inside the bar. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

Sheriff's deputy speaks to a potential witness as they stand near the scene Thursday, Nov. 8, 2018, in Thousand Oaks, Calif. where a gunman opened fire Wednesday inside a country dance bar crowded with hundreds of people on "college night," wounding 11 people including a deputy who rushed to the scene. Ventura County sheriff's spokesman says gunman is dead inside the bar. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

Sheriff's deputies speak to a potential witness as they stand near the scene Thursday, Nov. 8, 2018, in Thousand Oaks, Calif. where a gunman opened fire Wednesday inside a country dance bar crowded with hundreds of people on "college night," wounding 11 people including a deputy who rushed to the scene. Ventura County sheriff's spokesman says gunman is dead inside the bar. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

People comfort each other as they stand near the scene Thursday, Nov. 8, 2018, in Thousand Oaks, Calif. where a gunman opened fire Wednesday inside a country dance bar crowded with hundreds of people on "college night," wounding 11 people including a deputy who rushed to the scene. Ventura County sheriff's spokesman says gunman is dead inside the bar. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

Sheriff's deputies speak to a potential witnesses as they stand near the scene Thursday, Nov. 8, 2018, in Thousand Oaks, Calif. where a gunman opened fire Wednesday inside a country dance bar crowded with hundreds of people on "college night," wounding 11 people including a deputy who rushed to the scene. Ventura County sheriff's spokesman says gunman is dead inside the bar. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

The inside of the Borderline Bar and Grill is seen after the shooting as police closed off the area in Thousand Oaks, California on November 8, 2018. - Twelve people, including a police sergeant, were shot dead in a shooting at a night club close to Los Angeles, police said Thursday. All the victims were killed inside the bar in the suburb of Thousand Oaks late on Wednesday, including the officer who had been called to the scene, Sheriff Geoff Dean told reporters. The gunman was also dead at the scene, Dean added. The bar was hosting a college country music night. (Photo by Frederic J. BROWN / AFP) (Photo credit should read FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images)

People gather as close as they can to the Borderline Bar and Grill in Thousand Oaks, California on November 8, 2018 as police vehicles closed off the area responding to a shooting. - Twelve people, including a police sergeant, were shot dead in a shooting at a night club close to Los Angeles, police said Thursday. All the victims were killed inside the bar in the suburb of Thousand Oaks late on Wednesday, including the officer who had been called to the scene, Sheriff Geoff Dean told reporters. The gunman was also dead at the scene, Dean added. The bar was hosting a college country music night. (Photo by Frederic J. BROWN / AFP) (Photo credit should read FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images)

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The 28-year-old gunman, whose identity has not yet been released, entered the venue shortly before midnight local time, shot a bouncer and a cashier and then deployed a smoke bomb.

Chaos ensued as witnesses say the gunman, allegedly a tall white male dressed in all black with his face partly covered, began firing his weapon, a .45-caliber handgun, indiscriminately. 

"He was shooting everything — from the speakers to anything," survivor Summer Helmuth said. "So all we really saw was smoke."

Shots were still being fired when law enforcement officials arrived at the scene, Ventura County Sheriff's Office Capt. Garo Kuredjian said during a Thursday news conference.

Sgt. Ron Helus, also of the Ventura County Sheriff's Office, was among the first officers to respond to the bar.

Helus, a 29-year police veteran who had hoped to retire from the force in a year, was shot multiple times while entering the bar and tragically died later on from his injuries.

The gunman's body was later found inside the bar, but it remains unclear how he died.

The Associated Press reports that Borderline Bar & Grill, which includes a large dance hall with a stage and a pool room along with several smaller areas for eating and drinking, is a popular hangout for students from nearby California Lutheran University. Pepperdine University also confirmed on Twitter that multiple of its students were present at the time of the attack.

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