- Thirteen people, including the suspect, died in a shooting at a bar in Thousand Oaks, California, on Wednesday night.
- One of the victims was identified as deputy sheriff Sgt. Ron Helus.
- Helus died in hospital after being struck “multiple times by gunfire.”
- Ventura County Sheriff Geoff Dean said he “ran into danger hoping he might be able to save someone else’s life.”
The police officer who died in the Thousand Oaks bar shooting late Wednesday night has been identified as deputy sheriff Sgt. Ron Helus.
Helus died after being struck “multiple times by gunfire” at the Borderline Bar & Grill late Wednesday night, Ventura County Sheriff Geoff Dean told reporters early Thursday morning.
A gunman entered the bar, which was hosting a college night, and fired shots inside around 11:20 p.m. local time (2:20 a.m. ET Thursday).
A total of 13 people died: 11 victims, Helus, and the suspect. It’s not yet clear how the gunman died, and his identity and motive are not yet known.
Helus served with the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office for 29 years and four months, according to the Officer Down Memorial Page.
He had been hoping to retire in the next year, and leaves behind a wife and a son, Dean said on Thursday morning. Helus also planned to pursue a doctorate degree in the near future, according to his LinkedIn page.
Helus and a California Highway Patrol officer arrived to the scene within three minutes of receiving reports of the shooting on Wednesday night.
Upon arrival the officers heard more gunshots coming from inside the bar, and Helus “immediately made entry into the bar and confronted the shooter,” the Officer Down Memorial Page said.
Helus was then struck “multiple times by gunfire,” Dean said, while other officers moved Helus out of the way, the page said. Helus died of his injuries in hospital hours later.
Dean told the “Today” show: “He was willing to sacrifice his life to save others. He ran into danger. He didn’t walk. He ran into danger hoping he might be able to save someone else’s life, and he made the ultimate sacrifice, but he did it as a hero.”
Dean told reporters Thursday morning, choking back tears: “He was hard-working, he was totally committed, he gave his all. Tonight, as I told his wife, he died a hero. He gave his life to save other people.”
President Donald Trump also acknowledged Helus’ death, tweeting: “Great bravery shown by police.”
Helus leaves behind a wife and a grown son. Helus was on the phone to his wife when the report of the shooting came in.
According to Dean, he told her: “Hey I gotta go handle a call. I love you. I’ll talk to you later.”