Several hundred people were inside the Borderline Bar and Grill in Thousand Oaks, California, Wednesday night when a gunman attacked the venue, killing 12 people including a police officer.
The officer’s name was Sgt. Ron Helus, a 29-year veteran of the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office. Helus had intended to retire next year. Instead, he died heroically.
Ventura County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Capt. Garo Karedjian said Helus was a first responder to the shooting, which began around 11:15 p.m. Wednesday night. The sheriff’s office received multiple calls of shots fired at the bar after the hooded gunman began his massacre.
At least 13 people were killed, including the gunman. Somewhere between 10 and 15 more were injured.
Helus and a California Highway Patrol officer responded in minutes. Helus reportedly called his wife before entering the building to confront the shooter. The shooter fired upon the police officers when they entered the bar. Helus was hit several times. He died in an area hospital Thursday morning.
At a press conference, Ventura County Sheriff Geoff Dean said that Helus died as “a hero.”
“He gave his all … he went in to save lives, to save other people,” Dean said. He added that Helus was a “hard-working, dedicated Sheriff’s Sergeant.”
“A true cop’s cop,” Ventura County Sheriff’s Sgt. Eric Buschow told CNN Thursday morning. “I don’t think there’s anything more heroic than what he did.”
“He went in there to save lives. He took decisive action, and it’s just a tragic loss for us,” Buschow said.
“This was in his blood. He had just a natural instinct for going after crooks, and he did it with enthusiasm, with a great deal of intelligence.”
Profile pictures from Helus’ Facebook page, now memorialized, show he had a love for the outdoors and fishing.
“He loved spending time with his son,” Buschow added. “They would go fishing up in the Sierras together. My heart goes out to his family — I can’t imagine what they’re going through right now.”
Helus was an accomplished firearms instructor and competitive shooter. He earned his master’s degree from the University of Oklahoma. (For more from the author of “Hero Sgt. Ron Helus Called ‘a True Cop’s Cop,’ Died Bravely Confronting Thousand Oaks Shooter” please click HERE)