THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. (WIBW/AP) -- Ventura Co. Sheriff’s Sgt. Ron Helus reportedly made one last phone call late Wednesday night before rushing into the California bar where he and 11 other people were killed by a gunman.
“Hon, I got to go, I love you. I gotta go on a call,” Ventura Co. Sheriff Geoff Dean recounted, the L.A. Times said.
Dean choked back tears as he described the sheriff’s sergeant. The sheriff said Helus undoubtedly saved lives by going in to confront the gunman.
Helus and a passing highway patrolman were responding to several 911 calls when they arrived at the Borderline Bar & Grill in Thousand Oaks at about 11:20 p.m., the sheriff said. They heard gunfire and went inside.
Helus was immediately hit with multiple gunshots, Dean said. The highway patrolman cleared the perimeter and pulled Helus out, and then waited as a SWAT team and scores more officers arrived. Helus died early Thursday at a hospital.
He says the highway patrolman pulled out Helus and waited for a SWAT team as scores of other officers converged on the scene. By the time they entered the bar again the gunfire had stopped, and they found 12 people dead inside, including the gunman. He says Helus was later declared dead at a hospital
Helus was a 29-year veteran of the force with a wife and son and planned to retire in the coming year, said the sheriff, who choked back tears several times as he talked about the sergeant who was also his longtime friend.
“Ron was a hardworking, dedicated sheriff’s sergeant who was totally committed,” Dean said, “and tonight, as I told his wife, he died a hero because he went in to save lives.”