Around 11:20 p.m. PST, the first call of shots fired came rolling in as a gunman had entered Borderline Bar & Grill in Thousand Oaks, California. It was College Country Night, just as it had been for many Wednesdays prior.
Lexus Amanda, who helms an alt-pop solo project titled Blacklisted Me, decided to hit up Borderline for the first time in more than 10 years. Despite not being a fan of country, Amanda had gone to school near the bar and knew it was a popular hangout.
“The bar has been around forever, and it’s a bar a lot of my friends would go to growing up,” she explains. “I honestly haven’t been to the bar in 10 years. I think maybe I hit it once in the last 10 years. It’s just one of those bars that everyone knows about.”
She was getting dressed at her longtime friend Catt Chakko’s house, preparing for the night ahead. Amanda was ready to go for their planned 10:30 p.m. meetup with another friend, Corey Ayers, but Chakko was still busy tweaking her hair and makeup.
The slowdown was the first of many that evening, separating them from entering Borderline and finding themselves in the midst of gunfire. Once Chakko was ready, the duo grabbed an Uber but construction prevented them from getting on the interstate.
Meanwhile, at the bar, Ayers sat in the parking lot on the phone with a friend who had called, keeping him from heading inside to grab a drink and wait. Ayers was growing bored and texted Amanda.
“We were, at this point, 20 minutes behind our friend who had already been sitting in the parking lot just waiting for us,” she says. “He’d even texted me and said, ‘Oh, I don’t know. Maybe we should go to a different bar. It seems pretty lame in there.’”
Amanda asked him to wait until they got there so they could head to a different bar together. Once Chakko and she arrived, however, they never left the car.
“We get there, and we’re in our Uber, and we pull into the parking lot, and we’re about to get out of the car to walk up, and all of a sudden we see two guys sprinting as fast as they can,” she says. “The first thought in my head is that maybe they had gotten into a fight. I’d never seen somebody run so fast. It was obvious that there was something that had gone down.”
Next, a group of four ran out into the parking lot, and then countless people started popping up behind them.
“People are bloody. People are crying. People are screaming, ‘I can’t find my friends,’” she says. “I’m so confused. I’m like, ‘What is fucking going on?’ The last thing on my mind is this is a mass shooting.”
“People are bloody. People are crying. People are screaming, ‘I can’t find my friends. I’m so confused. I’m like, ‘What is fucking going on?’ The last thing on my mind is this is a mass shooting.”
Amanda tried to get someone to tell her what exactly was going on but explains everyone was too much in shock to respond. One man finally runs out and warns them to get away from the scene.
“One guy finally said, ‘There’s a shooter, get out, get out.’” she explains. “Right after he said that, you just hear 12 rounds of pops, like bullets. It was just like, ‘Pop, pop, pop’—at least 12 shots. That’s when we knew things were happening.”
Amanda explains that she essentially blacked out and focused on making it to safety.
“You just go into survival mode,” she says. “I didn’t cry. I’m not that type of person. My adrenaline was running so hard that I felt like I was going to blackout. My heart was beating really fast. I was getting tunnel vision. The only thing I could think of was just to get safety.”
“My heart was beating really fast. I was getting tunnel vision. The only thing I could think of was just to get safety.”
Amanda and Chakko headed to the Shell gas station around the corner. From there, they watched people trying to escape in their cars and on foot, running into the intersection. Even people who did get away were injured in their attempts to flee.
“Everybody has gashes on their faces and on their hands because they had to throw chairs out the window and hop out the window, so people are all injured from just doing that,” she says.
“You could hear more of the gunshots even after we got to the Shell station, which was around the corner,” she continues. “Then, we saw all of the cops pull [up]. There was countless police officers, firemen, ambulances—the whole nine yards.”
Amanda, Chakko and Ayers all made it safely home that evening, but Amanda is still processing everything that happened.
“I’m still in shock, to be honest with you,” she says. “I still haven’t cried over it. It doesn’t feel real type of thing, and that’s kind of where I’m at. I’m still processing, so I don’t know. I didn’t sleep last night, that’s for sure.”
Amanda also recognizes how lucky she is to have avoided the scene and made it home.
“Nobody should ever have to experience anything like this. My heart is so sad for all the people who lost loved ones or the people who are severely injured. It’s horrifying, and thank God I didn’t see anyone physically get shot because that’s gotta be traumatizing, you know? It was traumatizing just seeing as much as we did.
“I’m still, again, in that shock stage where this doesn’t feel real,” she continues. “It hasn’t really hit me yet. I’m thankful, that’s for sure.”