When a gunman opened fire on the Thousand Oaks country-western bar last week, Sgt. Ron Helus was one of the first to confront the shooter. According to People, 54-year-old Helus called his wife Karen when he first received the emergency call. Knowing he might not ever get to talk to his wife of 29 years again, he took the opportunity to quickly tell her he loved her. “He said had to back someone up, and he said he loved me,” Karen said. “And I’m glad that I said I loved him. That was the last time I talked to him.”
Knowing he might never come out, Helus rushed into the bar intent on saving lives. The alleged gunman, former U.S. Marine Ian Long, 28, shot Helus multiple times. The sergeant would later die in the hospital as a result of his injuries. Long committed suicide by shooting himself in the head before police could take him into custody. Twelve other people were killed as a result of the tragedy.
Memorial service for Sgt. Ron Helus, officer killed in the Thousand Oaks shooting https://t.co/j6lJysfsg2
— USA TODAY (@USATODAY) November 15, 2018
Helus’ widow Karen now calls her husband a hero. She and her son Jordan are not suprised by his selfless actions on the night of November 7. They say that he lived his life always trying to help others in any way he could. Helus was even known to give out his phone number to people he’d just met, telling them to call him any time of the day or night if they needed help. His family now hopes he will be remembered for his selflessness and bravery which persisted until the end.
His wife finds comfort knowing that her husband died doing what he loved, serving others. He wouldn’t have had it any other way. “I can’t bring him back,” Karen said tearfully. “But you know what? He died doing what he would have wanted to do. And he’s in a better place. He was (a hero), he would have said he was just doing his job, but you know what, he is a hero, and I want him to be known for that, because that’s what he did.”
The sergeant was just months away from retiring from his position after 29 years in the force. He had taken time away from the job to pursue a master’s degree and even opened a side business to train others about the importance of gun safety.
When asked how others might honor her husband’s memory, Karen said, “You know what, remember to tell the people that you love them.”