Southern California shootout took the life of a 29-year veteran sergeant who 'died a hero'
Sergeant Ron Helus was killed when he ran inside without hesitation while the shooting was going on.
NBC News reported that the 29-year-veteran was one of 12 innocent people who lost their lives in Thousand Oaks on Wednesday night. It happened at a bar about 40 miles west of Los Angeles.
Helus, who worked in the Ventura County, arrived at the Borderline Bar and Grill within three minutes after reports of gunfire were made. The bar's website says that a "College Country NIght" is hosted every Wednesday.
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Ron Helus, the sergeant who confronted the Calif. bar mass shooter, died a hero, sheriff says: "He was willing to sacrifice his life for the sake of others.” https://t.co/hw4bhAVlrI pic.twitter.com/Inzi1jAIXd— NBC News (@NBCNews) November 8, 2018
HOW THE BELOVED SERGEANT WAS KILLED
He was hit with several gunshots at the scene before being pulled out by a California Highway Patrol officer. The hospital declared him dead early Thursday morning.
Helus leaves behind his wife and son. He will also be remembered by colleagues. At a news conference, Sheriff Geoff Dean said:
"Ron was a hardworking, dedicated sheriff's sergeant, he was totally committed. He gave his all, and tonight, as I told his wife, he died a hero. He went in to save lives, to save people."
"He died a hero. Because he went in to save lives, to save other people," Ventura County sheriff says of Sgt. Ron Helus, a 29-year veteran, who was among the 12 killed in Calif. bar mass shooting attack.https://t.co/Ix0iMTHOWq pic.twitter.com/VcAUU7940D— NBC News (@NBCNews) November 8, 2018
Dean also mentioned how the two were close and used to work out together. Helus, 54, was reportedly just one year away from retirement.
WHAT HAPPENED AT THOUSAND OAKS
The police reported that hundreds of individuals were inside when the gunman, identified as Ian Long, stepped in and began shooting.
At 11:20 p.m. PT on Wednesday police started getting reports. The packed bar was holding a college night for adults. They scattered as the gunman, dressed all in black and armed, walked towards the bar. Some persons shattered the windows with bar stools, allowing many to escape.
12 killed, including deputy, in Calif. bar mass shooting; gunman also dead. https://t.co/mf0GwpfxvX— NBC News (@NBCNews) November 8, 2018
He used a handgun to shoot and reportedly said nothing. Shots rang throughout the bar and bodies started falling. It was when the police arrived that the gunman allegedly killed himself. He was found in an office in the bar.
THE SERGEANT'S LAST WORDS TO HIS WIFE
Before arriving at the bar, Helus spoke to his wife. Dean told reporters what he said:
"Hey, I gotta go handle a call. I love you. I'll talk to you later."
JUST IN: @VENTURASHERIFF tells us there will be a 10am procession from Los Robles Hospital to Medical Examiners Office in Ventura w/Sgt. Ron Helus’s body - 29 year veteran killed in the #BorderlineShooting— Marc Cota-Robles (@abc7marccr) November 8, 2018
The Sheriff's Office intended to conduct a procession on Thursday morning. They said in a statement:
"Ron’s selfless, heroic actions will never be forgotten. Our hearts go out to his family and friends during this difficult time."
THE GUNMAN'S IDENTITY AND HISTORY
Developing reports claim that the gunman fired at least 30 shots as well as used smoke grenades in the bar. The weapon used was a pistol with extended mags.
Long, a former Marine who lived in Newbury Park, legally purchased the gun before he used it on his victims. He further caused injury to at least 10 other persons.
According to the Daily Mail, his victims may include students from the Christian schools Pepperdine University and the California Lutheran University.
Sheriffs also divulged that there was an incident at Long's home in April 2018. Mental health experts were called in and cleared him of mental issues.
A witness of the attack named Teylor Whittler said Long "looked like he knew what he was doing." Her family has a history with the military.
The popular bar, which previously welcomed old and young alike, is, for now, a scene of heartbreak and devastation.
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