A gunman entered a country & western bar in Thousand Oaks, California late Wednesday and went on a rampage, opening fire and killing 11 bar patrons and police officer, Sergeant Ron Helus. Sadly, the police officer was a 20-year veteran on the police force, and he was going to retire from the sheriff’s office in Ventura County before he was shot and killed by the gunman at the Borderline Bar & Grill, reports CNN.
Sergeant Ron Helus was described as “hardworking and dedicated” by those who knew him. His last action made him a hero, according to Ventura County Sheriff Geoff Dean.
Sheriff Dean confirmed that the law enforcement officer was one of the victims in the mass killing. He spoke about the incident in a voice that broke from emotion saying that Sgt. Ron Helus “was totally committed, he gave his all, and tonight, as I told his wife, he died a hero.”
The sheriff went on to say, “He died a hero because he went, he went in to save lives, to save other people’s lives.”
“It’s so tragic losing Ron. We go to the gym together, work out together. It’s horrific and terrible and it saddens our hearts,” Sheriff Dean added.
Sgt. Ron Helus was among the first police officers that entered the Borderline Bar & Grill, and he received life-threatening injuries while trying to stop the mass killing. The police said that Sgt. Helus was taken to a hospital where he later died. The 29-year-old police officer is survived by his son.
According to the New York Times, the Borderline Bar & Grill contained approximately 100 people at the time of the shooting, and on early Thursday authorities announced that the gunman no longer posed a threat. Authorities additionally said that when other police officers arrived at the scene that the gunman was dead.
Witnesses questioned after the violent episode described the scene, saying that the gunman opened fire and shot a security guard first. Chaos ensued after that, and witnesses said that some patrons dropped to the ground and others broke windows in an attempt to get away from him.
Bar patron and regular, Michael Miller, said that he lives near the bar and was on his way there that night when he got calls from friends wondering if he was inside. The 25-year-old Miller told the news that the bar was often busy on Wednesday evenings because it’s college night and allows 21-year-olds to enter.
Michael Miller additionally said that the Borderline Bar & Grill was also a popular hangout spot for “police officers and firefighters.”